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Yorktown Center opens new free-play area for kids

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Hundreds of children got a first look at PLAY, the new children’s area at Yorktown Center in Lombard, during a grand opening celebration.

Lombard, IL – June 23, 2015 – Excited kids and adults filled the center court of Yorktown Center in Lombard Monday to celebrate the grand opening of a new children’s area called PLAY.

“It’s a verb, it’s an action. That’s what this is about,” said Donna Blair, Yorktown vice president. “It’s not one prescribed type of play. It’s really up to each individual child to engage in what is here, to use their imaginations and creativity and to have fun.”

Located on the lower level of the center court outside Carson’s, PLAY has features designed with the developmental milestones of children age 10 months to 10 years in mind, Blair said.

Convex mirrors and spinning wheels are part of the toddler area, which is focused on sight, touch and sound. The main play area, complete with tunnels and a slide, is shaped like the inside of a lava lamp.

“We didn’t just want to have the traditional plastic-type of sculptures that the kids climb on,” Blair said. “Yes, they enjoy them, but we wanted something that really challenged them in an artistic fashion.”

Other elements in PLAY include a rock climbing wall, a table filled with Legos and tablets that kids can use to play games, take pictures and draw.

“There are so many different types of children, in terms of their interests and what really engages them in play, and we wanted to make sure we touched on all of that,” Blair said.

Hundreds of people attended Monday’s celebration, which included a visit from Anna and Elsa from the Disney movie “Frozen,” face painting and entertainment from a balloon artist, a circus actor, a juggler and a man on stilts.

PLAY replaces a dated tree-shaped play area that was taken down when major renovations started taking place at the shopping center in 2013.

“A lot of the malls in the area are doing away with play areas,” said Yorktown Marketing Director Allison Krupp. “For us, family is our core, and it’s who we want here. So we paid special attention to that and brought this back.”

Sheila McGlone of Downers Grove said she appreciates having a place where her sons can play for free after a day of running errands and shopping.

“I was so disappointed when they took down the big tree and climbing area that was here before because we used to come here all the time on those boiling hot days or on those freezing cold days. It was great, and when they took it down, I think I was more upset than the kids,” she said.

McGlone said her children enjoyed wandering around PLAY during Monday’s grand opening, but she still wasn’t sure what she thought of it.

“I think I miss the tree, but I’ve got to give it a chance,” she said with a laugh. “They needed to have something.”

Alicia King of Lombard said she brought her three kids to Yorktown because she saw advertisements for the event on Facebook and through email.

“I didn’t really come (to Yorktown) that much (in the past) because they didn’t have anything to do with the kids,” she said. “Now that this is here, we’ll make a special stop here.”

PLAY festivities will continue from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. today and Wednesday. A magic and science show is scheduled for 11 a.m. and noon both days.