Play Worker, that kid took my play prop!

What do the iPhone, Bennifer and a new playground have in common? A) They've revolutionized their fields (hmmm). B) They're curvy and sexy. C) People hang around them seemingly needlessly. D) They've created an absurdly overblown media frenzy. E) All of the above. If you haven't figured it out I'm making a joke about the new David Rockwell-designed playground that is set to be built by the South Street Seaport. It was a really funny joke, maybe you just didn't get it because you somehow missed the massive (for a playground) amount of press it's been getting. The New York Times alone printed two stories and a flurry of opinion pieces about it last week. David Rockwell is a really cool architect who has designed places like Nobu and sets for Cirque de Soleil. His thing is creating experiences--seems like a good fit for a playground. Apparently the dude moved to Lower Manhattan (I told you he was cool) and then had a kid and realized that there weren't really any playgrounds by his house. So, what do you do if you're a super cool, famous architect and there's no playground near your house? You offer to design a super cool one and the Parks Department and private donors (hopefully) line up to pay for it. So what's all the fuss about?

People seem to be all up in arms about the idea that there will be "play workers" staffed at the playground to "work with kids, to spur their imagination, facilitating and supervising play." Somehow this threatens their idea that children should be just allowed to play. The way I see it, the kids are going to play no matter what you do and I'm guessing a big part of the reason there will be staff at this playground is to make sure that the special "play props" don't "walk off." Other than that, I'm guessing the flurry of media attention is spurred by a marketing initiative aimed at raising donations to create an endowment to maintain the park (read replace the "play props" and pay for the "play workers" until they decide it's stupid to do so any more) because the Parks department will not even accept the donation of the world famous Rockwell design and the $2 million grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to build it unless funds are in place to maintain it. I hope they do get the money and build the park. We need more playgrounds and all the new playgrounds they've been building have been really nice. I'm sure this one will be nice too. And I don't resent that the media is making it seem like a big deal just so they can write about it. As my son would say, "that's what me do."

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