Creative play encouraged in forested nook of Metro Park

The best places to play are those where you can use your imagination, as we did during a recent visit to the Natural Playground, a 10-acre space at Blendon Woods Metro Park in Westerville.

As we climbed on a net amid trees, we pretended to cling to a spider’s web, hot lava bubbling beneath our feet. We then scurried across a log bridge as angry trolls threw mud pies at us. Later, we hopped on a hillside zip line, narrowly escaping the clenches of a make-believe forest beast.

There are intentionally no posted rules or regulations at the Natural Playground to hinder creative play. If you want to leap from a rope while pounding your chest like Tarzan, go for it. There are three rope swings for doing just that.

There’s also a teeter totter made out of two hunks of wood, a pile of limbs for building forts and fairy houses and a train made of logs.

The park opened in May 2017, inspired by the bond between a little girl named Maris and her dad, Tim, who’d frequented Blendon Woods. Tim Zugaro died in a car accident in 2016. Tim’s wife, Michele, contributed donations from his funeral to build the play area.

Memories of Tim abound, including a couple of wooden posts that read Tim’s Teeter and Zugaro Zip.

The space is delightfully unstructured, a place where kids are encouraged to get off the trodden path to play in the dirt and climb trees.

Learn more about Blendon Woods.

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