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Hit the brakes and let playtime begin

Posted: January 21, 2012 1:30 a.m.
Updated: January 21, 2012 1:30 a.m.

Recreation leader level three, Erin Weiss. left, hands out paper plates as a group prepares for a craft project near the Santa Clarita Parkmobile at Bridgeport Park in Santa Clarita on Thursday.

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As several children took their turn at playing handball, a handful of others jumped rope, swung hula hoops and colored chalk drawings at Bridgeport Park in Valencia on a recent afternoon.

Two city employees had parked a box truck at the park and were handing out balls, chalk, jump ropes and other equipment from the truck to the dozens of children on Thursday afternoon.

The truck is part of the Parkmobile program, which started years ago in the city when there was a lack of parks in the Santa Clarita area, said city spokeswoman Gail Ortiz.

All of the equipment and activities are provided by the city free of charge, said Parkmobile director Erin Weiss. The Parkmobile program is open to children of all ages.

Weiss said the city often hosts the program at parks near schools so that children can participate on the way home from school. The Parkmobile follows the school district’s schedule and visits a different school on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The program lasts from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

The program follows a schedule with snack time at the same time each day, said Weiss. The children also have free play when they first arrive and do arts and crafts and play games.

When the children get their snacks, Weiss or another employee writes down their first names so they can keep track of how many children attend the program each day. A normal day brings about 30 to 40 children, but 67 attended the program at Bridgeport Park on Thursday.

Many of the parents who brought their children on Thursday said the Parkmobile program is important.

“Talk about 100-percent positive,” said Amy Price, of Valencia, who brought her three daughters to the park. “It’s good for the kids.”

Real Andrews said his three children can’t wait for the Thursdays when the Parkmobile comes. His 8-year-old son Nathan said he liked playing outdoors during the program.

“(If not for the program), I would probably sit at home and play video games,” the youngster said.

Most of the children who attended the program on Thursday said they most liked doing arts and crafts and playing games.
While most of the parents at Bridgeport Park said they were from Valencia and had children who attended Bridgeport Elementary, one mother said she drove her two young daughters from Saugus to attend the program.

“I try to come every Thursday,” said Sandra Escobar, who said friends living in the Valencia area told her about the program. “I love it. (My daughters) can interact with other kids.”

The Parkmobile will be visiting Old Orchard Park, 25023 Avenida Rotella, on Tuesdays; Pamplico Park, 22444 Pamplico Drive, on Wednesdays; and Bridgeport Park, 23520 Bridgeport Lane, on Thursdays this month.

The program is subject to cancellation in extreme weather or if fewer than five children show up in the first hour.
For more information or to suggest a park site, call (661) 284-1465 or email


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