Updated: Apr 20
Equipment by Henderson, Little Tikes.
Surfaces: sand that's so big it's basically gravel.
Do you remember that friend you had growing up, the one you were only friends with because they had a toy you liked playing with? Maybe they were the first kid to have a Super Nintendo. Or maybe they had a trampoline. Or maybe they had GI JOEs and your parents had moral objections and wouldn’t ever buy you GI JOEs no matter how bad you wanted them and didn’t they know it was all pretend and you didn’t really want to be in the army and WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL MOM!? …sorry. Just repressing something for a second there.
Anyway, Cummer Park is the playground version of that kid.
It’s a fairly safe bet that nobody comes here for the playground. They come here to swim at the community centre, play on the basketball or tennis courts, ride the skate park, or maybe to giggle at the park’s name. But not to play on the playground.
We went because we wanted to check out the skate park, which was pretty good, and much more nicely shaded than most skate parks tend to be. But when we spotted the playground, we just had to go; thanks to lockdown, we hadn’t been to a new playground in almost a year, and the old rush of discovery was too much to resist. And, as a COVID-era bonus, it was empty.
We soon found out why it was empty. It's hard to have fun on the 30-year-old Henderson equipment. Embarrassingly short slides, empty spaces where other elements used to be, monkey bars whose paint has been rubbed off by generations of grubby hands.
The saddest part: you know those double-ended speaking tubes, the ones that appear in two different parts playgrounds so that kids can talk to each other while standing a few metres apart? Well this playground had one end of the speaking tube. It was like the analog equivalent of a phone with no SIM card. I could just imagine some sad kid, waiting for his parents to finish up their tennis match on the nearby courts to he could go home, talking to his imaginary friend through a one-ended speaking tube.
My 5-year-old found a brief moment of fun on those rigid zipline things that Henderson really got into at some point in the 80s. But it was truly a brief moment, and we soon went back to the car to talk about how much fun the skate park was.
If this park were to get re-done, it would be the icing on the cake for this otherwise excellent, multi-use park and community hub. North York could use some flagship playgrounds, and if I was the one doling out the money, this would be a good spot to invest. But until then, it'll have to accept its role as the friend everyone uses for Super Nintendo access.