Oklahoma City family fun is all about the here and now. Sometimes, though, the memories you make stay much longer.
Summer is ending and that means the start of fourth grade at our house. Sam is 9 and now is the time to make memories together.
That's exactly what we did this past Saturday.
Slide the City came to town, a 1,000-foot slip 'n slide-style attraction. Part of Shartel Avenue closed for the day and it was dedicated to family fun.
Since just this past Saturday, friends and family have asked the big question around all events: "Was it worth attending?"
It was and here's why: it's not like anything else around. Water parks and pools aren't the same. Museums and movie are awesome in their own ways but this event isn't the same as other family experiences. It's a throwback to the '80s and '90s that parents can share with their kids in a way that is just fun; there's no secondary agenda here or educational imperative.
Slide the City is slated to return to Oklahoma City next year. Here are four tips I don't want to forget for next year's repeat visit and that might be helpful if you're thinking of attending:
- Keep age and ability in mind: Slide the City is perfect for upper elementary school kids, tweens and teens. I had considered bringing Isaac, age 4, but I read on the website that Slide the City is for kids who are at least 5 years old and 46 inches. Meh, I thought, surely he could get by and be just fine. I'm glad I didn't register him; now that I've seen it in person, I understand why younger kids wouldn't enjoy it as much. The logistics of a long day outdoors in the sun and the possibility for a much larger adult to slide into a child are what make that age and height requirement a hard and fast rule rather than just a recommendation. I also think Isaac, who I'd normally classify as fearless, would have been scared to stand at the top of the 1,000-foot tarp and slide down on an innertube. Sam actually had a better time than I did, as would be expected. The slip 'n slide concept was entirely new to him and he loved running for momentum then sailing down the small incline. I have to say, that at just 31 and having had several epidurals, I felt old to be slipping, sliding and falling, but age certainly wasn't stopping anyone at the event. I saw grandparents join their grandkids and have a great time. I was sore the next day and I wonder if they were too. It's a very physical event, with a lot of walking, and you'll obviously need to be able to get up and down easily.
- Pack light: You'll probably have to park on the street and there's not a good place to leave valuables; just don't bring them. Leave rings and other jewelry at home, as they'll only get in your way. I had an all-day pass that provided a lightweight neoprene knapsack; it was invaluable. Cases to keep your phone dry are sold on-site but I put mine in a small bag, wrapped it in a t-shirt and placed that inside the knapsack. It didn't get wet. I also ended up jamming in my son's sandals, my own flip-flops, extra clothes and hats. It was surprisingly comfortable for sliding. I left sunscreen, bug spray, sunglasses, towels and everything else in the car. If I'd had another parent with me, I could have used an extra large tote bag to pack everything and taken turns with him or her. That would have been a better strategy than walking back to the car each time we needed something.
- Go for the all-day pass: I'm usually the first person to look for ways to save money on family fun. The all-day package was the most expensive option at $96 per person; however, it was really the best deal. The number of times we could slide was unlimited and it included a the knapsack, a t-shirt, hat and the all-important innertube. You could bring your own on all of those things but it's cheaper than buying them piece-by-piece and the ability to make a day of it was worth that price. I thought we'd be ready to go home in three hours; instead, we were there until 6 p.m. MetroFamily had a 20 percent-off discount and fellow sliders told me about their Groupon deals. Check back next summer to see what the going thing is to get in for less.
- Look for amenities: Slide the City is an outdoor event; there isn't a place to sit down or cool off other than the slide itself. A snow cone stand did brisk business but other than that, there was no food nor were drinks available for purchase. Midtown's Plaza Court is just a few minutes' walk, though, and café food worked out for lunch. A vendor's tent also had a small compressor to help inflate innertubes.
Slide the City was one of the few events where I purchased the professional photos taken of us after for that simple reason: we do look so happy, what summer is all about.
We just put up a photo wall in our living room, small frames that form an oval with our wedding portrait in the center.
I have three new images to add to it and we'll remember the summer fun, smile back at ourselves in other seasons, long after our sunburns have faded.
I can remember being 9, not yet double digits. Sam will have memories of events like this one to look back on as he grows, happy times, I hope. It's not every event an older kid wants to go to with his Mom and that is okay. That is, in fact, the way things have to be. Just this once, though, it was like being a kid again, together. For eight hours on a Saturday, there was no homework, no one suggesting he clean anything or find something better to do. No pressure, no worries.
Worth doing? Absolutely.