Hopping Around Huntington Park
After several rainy days in a row, the skies cleared for a mid-April ballgame at Huntington Park. My 18-month-old neighbor, David, (and his father) joined me for the occasion and I was thrilled to help facilitate what was sure to be one of David's first memories: a Norman Rockwell-esque experience wherein Matt LaPorta hits a homerun, we all high-five and David understands for the first time in his miniscule life how awesome it is to be an American.
With a $3 (advance) ticket price for kids, ages 2 to 12, and only $6 (advance) for adults, Huntington Park is my favorite place to take kids. Hot dogs, fountains, mascots...perfect, right? And most importantly, if there's a meltdown or public screaming incident, the investment lost when tugging the child out the gate is minimal.
This easy out, however, was irrelevant for David, who was essentially jubilant for the entire stay. It wasn't the bounce house that captured his heart, nor the mechanical baseball ride behind home plate. And it surely wasn't anything that happened on the field. If a memory of his first baseball experience was etched into his mind, it is of the dozens of puddles on the concrete concourse, each deep enough to provide a tiny splash as his green rubber frog boots repeatedly landed in them.
While it may be difficult to turn down Dippin' Dots or one of those 10-cent hot dogs, Huntington Park policy allows for guests to bring their own food (sans coolers, sans bottles, sans cans). This makes it relatively easy to feed little ones during the game.
A warning, though. From experience. Don't bring fresh cherries, especially for very young children. Otherwise you'll spend half the game biting into them like a mother bird, removing the pits (and putting them where?) and feeding germ-infested cherry halves to the kid. A real mom? She'd stick with bananas or something.
To anyone under the age of 10, nine innings is an eternity. If you're inviting kids - and their parents - to a baseball game, plan to leave early. Otherwise, you might find yourself alone in the bleachers, slightly tipsy, muttering things under your breath at the players. Don't be that woman.
There's a magical age where children don't understand pricing. Last summer, I took my (actual) niece and nephew into the ballpark store with instructions to each purchase one item (for $30 or under). Christian chose a (fairly expensive but totally hip) hat just over budget. Jade selected a stuffed pink baseball for something like $6. If you're heading to the gift shop, try to bring kids like Jade.
With these tips, remember that the first Clippers' home game this season is April 11. Take a few of your favorite kids and check out the centerfield fountain, the Krash and Lucile bobbleheads, and the $2 grilled cheese sandwiches at the Bob Evans stand. And if you love America, then do your patriotic duty: Jump in a puddle or six.
-Jill Moorhead doesn't have children, but borrows her friends' kids with a dual purpose: to actually see her friends, and to find ways to spoil their offspring. She writes about food in Columbus Crave and Columbus Monthly, as well as at itinerantfoodies.com.