The Missing Spider Web

When we moved into our home in the summer of 2014, one of the first things our sons wanted to do was visit all the parks in our neighborhood.

They quickly settled on a favorite — a low-key park with a small playground but one cool, challenging feature — a huge climbing apparatus that looked like an enormous spider web. Plus, there was a small rope wall to climb to get to it. My boys craved the thrill of climbing to the top of that web, intricately navigating all the ropes to wind their way to the top. Once at the top, they could stop and look out over the park, enjoying the fruit of their effort. They were about 20 feet off the ground.

They’d ask that we go there every so often and the park became known, to us, as the Spider Web Park. It became one of our go-to family spots.

Then, a few months ago, we noticed that the spider web vanished. I called our city’s parks and recreation department which promised to get me answer asap. Months later, I’m still waiting. But I don’t need the city to call me back. I know what happened.

This is my theory: someone in the city determined that the spider web was too dangerous for kids to climb on. I don’t know what precipitated the removal — whether someone fell from the apparatus or whether a city inspector or employee simply determined that there was too great a threat of injury. But I feel strongly that a determination was made that the spider web needed to go before the city got slapped with a lawsuit.

That saddens me on several levels. First, if someone got hurt, that’s terrible. The last thing that anyone wants is to see a child – or adult — get hurt. I realize that parks and park equipment exist for the enjoyment of everyone and if there is a legitimate danger, changes need to be made. However, how many injuries were there? If the equipment has been used successfully by children for years without incident should one or two incidents mandate its removal?

Second, kids need more playtime outdoors. We can all agree on that. When there is a favorite climbing apparatus that challenges and inspires kids, shouldn’t the benefits of that be weighed before taking away the equipment? As far as I know, the removal of the spider web was arbitrary and done without any consultation from the community.

Third, if the threat of legal action was a factor in the disappearance of the equipment, is that an adequate reason to make this change? I know that city’s and governmental agencies have to watch their bottom lines — and ultimately, it is we, the taxpayer, who bear the burden, but let’s let litigation — or the threat of litigation — rule our lives.

As a kid I remember distinctly different playground equipment than that of today. There were metal slides, There were those carousel-looking, spinning things that you had to run to keep up with and jump on. There were long, metal monkey bars and metal climbing pieces. They’re all gone. We survived those things and I hate to think that one threatening letter or overly concerned parent or city employee would be responsible for removing my kids’ favorite spider web from a park just when they were becoming skilled and confident at using it.

(Photo credit: JefferyTurner via / CC BY)


The Beginning
About Happiest Daddy

Two boys, one wife and a ton of material. I live for family and I'm one of the most blessed people you will ever meet.

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