Carol Stream festival lets families just play
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Sounds easy enough, right?
Playing was the task before more than 1,000 people who attended Saturday's opening of the eighth annual JustPlay! Sports & Recreation Festival hosted by the Carol Stream Park District.
With a handful of new active options this year, participants could play in scuba gear, on paddle boards, along zip lines, on fitness obstacle courses or on more familiar terrain like grassy soccer fields or paved basketball courts.
New this year at the festival, which continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, is a water sports pool offering kayaking and stand-up paddling, a soccer area sponsored by Comcast and the Chicago Fire, a softball area featuring pitching and hitting instruction from the Chicago Bandits and a fitness agility course, said Kelly Carbon, community relations manager for the Carol Stream Park District.
"We focused on increasing the sport offerings or the outdoor adventures," Carbon said, resulting in the addition of the water sports pool operated by Paddle and Trail, which has stores in Aurora and near Rockford.
Kevin Versino, owner of Paddle and Trail, said the pool gives people enough space to try a few strokes of kayaking or stand-up paddling and determine if they'd like to learn more about the sport.
The Guevara family of Wheaton, including 9-year-old Justice and 5-year-old Javier, tried stand-up paddling, the zip line and trampoline bungee jumping all before lunchtime Saturday, making mother Jennifer Guevara marvel at the relatively short wait times.
"It's not what you'd expect for a free event," Guevara said.
Some kids came ready to play, dressed in baseball or soccer uniforms from earlier games. Even those in jeans or flip flops got into the spirit. And those who wanted to try their hand at scuba diving, like 13-year-old RJ Steineke of Hanover Park, got to wriggle their way into wet suits.
RJ, who wants to become a firefighter, said he enjoyed his first diving experience Saturday.
"Now I know what the firefighters feel like having to dive," RJ said. "I could do this."
All the playing took place at Carol Stream Town Center, as the nearly complete Fountain View Recreation Center sat on the sidelines.
The new facility is set to open this fall, and some at the festival stopped by an informational booth to view floor plans or sign up for memberships.
"We're doing some fitness agility courses so we can showcase and highlight our new fitness center," Carbon said. "It's a wonderful kickoff to summer."
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