I’d like to introduce you to Mitchell Park, just southeast of University and Hardy, the playground that opens up on the back porch of Tempe’s Child’s Play Production campus.
This park commingles a soccer field, a purpleish basketball court with eight hoops, a large sand playground with a wide variety of playsets, a sand volleyball court, a well-used dog park, all backed into a repurposed Tempe District elementary school revived and rejuvenated by local theater company, Childsplay (what a wonderful coincidence!).
First off, there is a regular flow of pedal and pedestrian traffic passing alongside in the neighborhood, but also in and through the park, in addition to the canine carnival which creates a busy panorama. Now, depending on whether you prefer your isolation and solitude or you gather energy from such free-flowing environments, this may or may not be a good thing. This connectivity of activity does certainly create a lively scene, no doubt an extension of the raw youth and creative spirit residing in the outlying neighborhood.
This connectivity is also realized dramatically in the contiguous dynamic these courts and fields spark between each other, where disparate athletics rub up against each other creating healthy contrast, almost inviting games to spill over into each other. The calming rolls of nano-hills and well distributed tree-cover provide sufficient wedges of separation. Ballers beat basketballs rhythmically, mothers lazily follow toddlers at their feverish pitch, and dogs (and their dutiful owners) socialize sans leash. Activity spawns more of the same. Like attracts like.
And in the final column of park offerings I have always found it important to take into account any usable facilties (i.e. restrooms, potable water, etc.) along with any other details that might better prepare you for the experience. In this setting there was no restroom, there was one centralized drinking fountain which went from Arizona piping hot to tolerable temperatures in roughly fifteen seconds, and there was no canopy covering the children’s playground (beware of smoldering sand!). There is a gracefully windy path that sneaks around and one or two roof-top picnic tables- perfect for angled pushups or vertical jumping (or just to sit and lounge :)).
All things considered, Mitchell Park has a lot going on in a small space. I’ll be back, for sure, tilling my soil and challenging the gods of strength and wisdom. You’re free to enjoy another walk in the park. But why walk, when you can run and kick and boogie woogie? Yeah, I said it.