The most fun piece of playground equipment of all-time is the Rocket Slide at Prospect Park in Huron, SD. That is not just my opinion–it is a fact. I saw someone mention it on Facebook the other day and I was astounded to hear that thing has survived all these years. It seemed like all the cool dangerous playground equipment disappeared in the mid-90s, but that Rocket Slide continues to stand, apparently! Aside from it still standing and not being banned, the recent photos I’ve seen appear that it hasn’t even been altered in any way except maybe a fresh coat of paint. I can’t believe Huron teenage vandals didn’t spraypaint obscenities on the Rocket Slide.
I remember going to the park in Huron with Mom many times as a tiny tot and having fun playing on this. The first part, not even pictured, was a draw bridge, and then you had to climb the really steep, slippery slope up to the next level. I remember having to clutch onto the chain-link fence on that slope to make it up, it was always very slick. Then that first red slide by the USA was too scary to actually go down. The slide started at a hole in the floor and twisted around very eerily. I’m not sure how old I finally was when I worked up the courage to go down it. The last climb to the top led to a staircase back down to a lower slide which was much less scary.
They also had a bizarre stand-up merry-go-round, a barrel-rolling tube of some sort, those sand-digging construction toys with the lever arms and buckets, and many other unusual play things that you just don’t see at your run-of-the-mill playground. I look forward to the day I can return to the great Rocket Slide and the other fun equipment at Prospect Park, perhaps with a little Ryan or Lauren Jr. Hopefully the rest of that stuff has survived all these years too. Maybe Mom can even dig up a good picture or two for me to add to the blog.
That also got me to thinking about the dangerous playground equipment at Willow Lake Elementary, and how it was all shut down for various reasons. They had a merry-go-round where everyone would sit and face inward, and two of the seats had pumps to make it spin so no one had to get off and push. They also had a lawsuit-waiting-to-happen chained tire wall–basically just a bunch of old tires chained together and hanging vertically. I remember distinctly at least one idiot schoolmate chum with a broken arm on that tire thing.
Even the regular equipment like the slide was such fun–whenever it would snow, it would become dangerously slick and kids would line up 50 deep to take their turn flying down this slide. It was rumored that either Andy Fonken or Rick Zantow came to the school overnight and poured water on the slide to turn it to ice and make it even faster. Last time I was at the school playground all that stuff had long since been replaced with safe, plastic, colorful equipment much closer to the ground and much less fun-looking.