By Amy Rowley
Today I was faced with a classic “busy mom” dilemma. I had a mini-van full of little girls, doing my shift on carpool duty after a morning day camp. My meet-up time to swap kids was still far off in the future, yet it wasn’t nearly enough time to go home. By the time we reached my home, it would have been time to turn around and come back into town. So, how to entertain four little girls on a beautiful sunny day in downtown Olympia – why the East Bay Public Plaza, of course.
I ignored the fact that none of the girls had a swimsuit, let alone a change of clothes. And, I just assumed that my fellow parents would overlook the state of their children when they were returned.
The girls hopped out of the car, but tentatively dipped their toes into the water, expecting me to chastise them to stay dry. Maybe three minutes passed before they announced collectively that their clothes were going to serve as swimsuits. They dunked their bodies and yelped with joy.
The East Bay Public Plaza was a mecca for Olympia children today. The gorgeous sun beat down on the water. The smiles on kids faces could brighten anyone’s day. A splash here or there cooled off the overseeing parents.
Some families brought ice chests and spread out towels for a picnic. (These moms clearly are better planners. They also miraculously had bathing suits for their children and towels to dry off. And, I suspect that they also lathered the kids in sunscreen. Good job, moms!) The public restrooms are clean and easily accessible. Park benches or rocks along the edge of the plaza are a resting place for weary parents.
To help lessen the pain of our ultimate departure, I caved and bought ice cream treats at the Hands On Children’s Museum cafe. It served as a dual purpose – get the girls out of the water with (minimal) complaining and put the water drips onto the pavement rather than the car.
Due to the joint effort of the LOTT Clean Water Alliance, Port of Olympia, City of Olympia, and the Hands On Children’s Museum, this space is free to use. Educational materials and thought-provoking, interpretive elements are scattered throughout the outdoor plaza.
To find the East Bay Public Plaza, travel along Olympia Avenue NE to where the road intersects with Marine Drive or Jefferson Avenue.
Or, simply follow the squeals of little voices.