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When winter finally gets here for sure -- it could be soon! -- here's where kids can play indoors

ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - Southeast Indoor Park volunteer Nate Scott (center) attends with his 2 year old son Thayer (left) and 4 year old daughter Hadley (front right, climbing onto horse) - as toddler Roxy Schaack-Borger rocks on a horse, back right. The colorful Mt. Hood mural was designed and painted in 2016 by Andrea Lawhead. With winter weather arriving, indoor parks for children become popular, as parents, nannies, grandparents, and guardians want to get out of the house with their children. There are several indoor play areas in Southeast Portland.

One longtime indoor park in the Woodstock Neighborhood is called Southeast Indoor Park, and is bustling at least eight months a year. It gives infants, toddlers, and preschoolers up to age five a place to play and socialize, and also provides an opportunity for adults to connect with each other and share stories about raising and caring for their children.

This is a nonprofit membership co-op indoor play park, dedicated to providing a safe and clean indoor play space, and is held in the daylight basement of Trinity United Methodist Church on the corner of S.E. Cesar Chavez Blvd. (formerly 39th Avenue) and Steele Street. It is the oldest indoor park in the area, celebrating its 42nd year. It has been in the same location for all four decades.

"It gives kids a chance to get out of the house and run their energy until nap time," says Nate Scott, a stay-at-home dad who has been a volunteer member since 2013 and on the Board of Directors since 2014. "People find out about us through word of mouth, because we are so local. We charge $60 a year or $8 a month, October through May." With 20 to 30 families enrolled at any one time, there are about 12 to 15 families participating for two hours every Monday and Thursday morning from 9:00-11:00.

When you visit it, the very large basement space is filled with colorful mats, slides, rocking horses, toys, tables, and a fenced-in area for trike and toy car riding. Everything is set up and cleared by Scott and parents each of the two days. It is the same space that is used later (emptied!) for an adult Better Bones & Balance exercise class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In the past, when not used for indoor park or exercise class, the basement has also held many receptions and events, church and non-church. For more information go online – http://www.playinside.org

Another major indoor park in Southeast Portland is in what is now the Sellwood Community House, on the corner of S.E. 15th Avenue and Spokane Street in Sellwood. Their indoor park began in the 1980s, and continues on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 10:30 a.m. until noon. It's for children ages 6 months to 5 years, and costs $1.50 as a drop-in, or $25.00 for twenty visits. To register visit the website – http://www.sellwoodcommunityhouse.net

A third indoor park, set up three times a week in the old skating rink of the Mt. Scott Community Center on S.E. 72nd and Harold Street, is run by Portland Parks & Recreation, and is held Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to noon, with a $2.00 per child drop-in fee, from October 16 through January 3. For more information, go to – https://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/60409

A fourth popular indoor park is "Hammer & Jacks" at 6416 S.E. Foster Road; ages: 0 to 5 years – plus drop-in play for non-walkers on Fridays. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fees are $4 drop-in; $6 all-day pass; call ahead as space is limited: 503-894-9150. Online at – http://www.hammerandjacks.com

And a fifth Southeast Portland indoor play option for toddlers is "Tiny Tots" at the Woodstock Community Center, on S.E. 43rd at Knight Street. It is an adult/child drop-in activity for kids 3 and under, with a visit costing $2.00. It meets twice a month on Saturday mornings from 9 to 11. Dates for the group: December 14th; January 11th and 25th; February 8th and 22nd; March 14th and 28th; April 11th and 25th; and May 23rd.

Robin Eubanks, a Woodstock resident, organized "Tiny Tots" two years ago, and says, "Come burn off some energy with other kids, and develop motor skills and coordination in a safe and nurturing environment. Meet other parents with children the same age and build community." For more, contact Robin Eubanks by e-mail – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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