Equipment rumbles, kids play in Lionshead
VAIL – For the best view of the construction work in Lionshead, it helps to be about 4 feet tall.That view comes courtesy of the Plexiglas windows in the walls of the “Kidstruction Zone,” where kids can watch the big machines work, and build some little projects of their own.The brightly-colored area, that now runs about 90 feet along the perimeter of the Vail Square project, is a kid magnet. On a recent Friday, kids wandering through the plaza in Lionshead pulled their parents toward the zone. Several had their pictures taken in the little track hoe. Others hit the tables where Legos and wooden blocks lay waiting. And every kid who dragged a mom or dad toward the zone made Brian Hall’s smile a little wider.
Hall, who’s running the area for Vail Resorts Development Company, is an experienced hand at turning the controlled mayhem of a construction zone into a Mecca for kids. He set up his first kids’ areas in Beaver Creek in 1996. Those projects led to the Beaver Creek Children’s Museum.”We came up with the idea of taking a negative and turning it into a positive,” Hall said.The result is good a couple of ways, Hall said. First, it provides a free activity kids, and parents, can enjoy.
“Dads get in there and they start building things, too,” Hall said.Putting a brightly-colored, fun-packed attraction into a construction zone is another plus, Hall said.For Hall, who also runs the Beaver Creek Children’s Theater, running a construction area for kids is a lot like getting a play open. There’s a ton of work to do before the curtain rises, and then it’s time for fun.The planning isn’t done with the roughly 90 feet of kidstruction zone now open. Hall said what’s there now was put up to get something in place for the Fourth of July weekend. As the months go by, though, kid stuff will replace a lot of the green construction fencing that now rings the perimeter of the Vail Square project.
“We should have about 600 feet when it’s done,” Hall said. When that happens, bright colors will draw kids to a zone that stretches from about Garfinkel’s on the east to the Lionshead Liquor Store on the west.There will be a lot more than blocks and Legos, too.An architect’s corner is in the works, so kids can design their own buildings. There will also be exhibits of solar power and a place where kids can build their own electric circuits to run various doo-dads.Helping with the fun at the Lionshead area is a crew of young adults, one of whom is on duty all the time, whether to help kids with projects or to answer parents’ questions about where to rent a bike or grab a bite.While there’s always an adult on duty, Hall asked that parents stay with kids younger than 10.
The kids’ area seems to be working as planned.”It seems like the kids enjoy it,” said host Becca Vaughan. “The kids yell, ‘I want to come back,’ when they leave.”And, for a summer job, this one’s working out pretty well for Vaughan.”It’s been fun to meet people so far,” she said.
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For at least one family, the kids’ area was a welcome surprise.”We came through looking for a gondola ride,” said Denver-area resident Stacy Elges. “They kids eyed this and they came running.”While the big equipment behind the fence was a little scary for Elges daughter, Brooke, the 5-year-old said she liked the play area.”I like the Legos,” she said.
Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado