Swing at Recreations Outlet

Handling goods OK at playground supply store


Normally if I see a for-sale item in a store with a hefty price tag attached to it, I steer my oftentimes destructive children away from it. The mantra “You break it, you buy it” echoes in my mind.

But at Recreations Outlet in Powell children are encouraged to touch the merchandise. The supplier of outdoor play sets allows children to gleefully bounce, swing, slide and climb on everything in its showroom as adults watch from the sidelines, some alluringly moved to purchase what they see their children enjoying.

Founded in 1990, Recreations Outlet has three locations in Ohio. Two of them offer indoor play areas for children ages 10 and under to test the goods for $5 each for two hours.

The spacious playroom in Powell, located inside a red barn at 484 W. Olentangy St., includes trampolines, basketball hoops, soccer nets and wooden play sets with slides, swings, climbable ropes and scalable sides. There’s also lots of room to run on the cushioned floor.

It’s a great place for kids to play indoors when the weather’s not so great outdoors.

Cost is $6 per child to play for two hours Monday-Friday during regular business hours; and $8 per child on Saturday and Sunday. Or families can pay just $2 for two hours of play during “Charitable Play,” 9-11 a.m., Tuesday-Thursday. Each month proceeds are donated to a designated charity.

Adults are requested to sign a waiver that says Recreations Outlet isn’t responsible for injuries.

For more information, visit recreationsoutlet.com.

Columbus Fire Museum

Slide down brass pole at downtown historic landmark


With the ability to ride in noisy trucks and spray water hoses at fires, it’s no wonder that so many children are fascinated by firefighters.

Youngsters in central Ohio have the perfect opportunity and place to meet the real men and women behind the profession at the Central Ohio Fire Museum & Learning Center at 260 N. 4th St. in downtown Columbus.

Located inside an old fire station, the museum shares the history of firefighting in Columbus through artifacts and a collection of shiny, red trucks. It’s a place where visitors can learn about fire safety while their kids slide down a fire pole and play inside a fire engine.

“You can learn the history of our local fire service going from the bucket brigade to hand-drawn equipment to horse-drawn steamers and motorized equipment,” said Richard Byrd, one of four part-time staffers at the museum.

Built in 1908, Engine House No. 16 is on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was retired as a fire station in the 1980s and restored in 1990 with money raised by local firefighters and community sponsors. It opened as a museum in 2002.

“The building is the last house in Columbus originally built for horses,” Byrd said. “It had 10 horse stalls. Three horses pulled the steamer, three pulled the hook and ladder, three pulled the hose, and one pulled the coal wagon that had extra coal for the steamer.”

Visitors can see several of the original stalls, still marked with hoof prints on the doors. About 4,000 people annually visit the museum, mostly children on field trips who come to learn about fire safety.

I recently made the trip with my 4-year-old son, Max, during a birthday party. Max and his friends learned about fire safety from Bill Hall, a retired fireman, and his soon-to-be son in law, “Fireman Mike.”

They watched Fireman Mike suit up in his work gear, slipping on fireproof pants and a jacket, steel-toed boots and gloves. Hall explained that a fireman’s helmet works like an umbrella, allowing water to roll off its rim and away from a firefighter’s body.

Fireman Mike put on a protective mask connected to a tank with 30 minutes worth of oxygen. “He sounds like Darth Vader,” said Max upon hearing Fireman Mike breathe.

Max and I toured the museum, which is predominantly colored red, white, black and gold. We saw a wooden fire truck with a shiny brass bell that’s hooked up to a life-size plastic horse. We also saw cast-iron toys and historic fire hose nozzles.

Max, though, liked the play area the best. He put on a red jacket, helmet and boots, then slid down a mini brass fire pole. He joined the other children inside the front end of a real fire engine, where they turned the steering wheel, flipped on lights and unraveled a fire hose.

I browsed the gift shop and found a firefighter suit perfect for Max.

Future plans are to restore the second floor, formerly used as a hayloft, to increase displays.

Hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

Cost is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $4 for children.

For more information, visit www.centralohiofiremuseum.com or call 614-464-4099.