For decades, the maple trees that surround Orillia’s newest park, have been tapped for maple syrup production. The trees are the inspiration for the theme of the Walter Henry playground concept design in Orillia’s west end.
The maple syrup playground includes a large tipped over sap-collecting bucket – a creative climbing feature that appears to be spilling the sap. The interior of the bucket offers playful sling seats that children can climb through or simply sit on while visiting or hanging out with friends. The poured-in-place rubber that surrounds the bucket is an artful and intentional shape that mimics sap spilling out onto the ground. Two red maple leaf wobble boards are a bright colour pop and a dynamic play element that kids can enjoy solo or with friends while sitting or standing!
Nestled adjacent to the trees, a natural coloured playground tower and post and rope course feature blue nets, ropes and a huge tube slide – blue is chosen as a nod to the sap lines that run between the trees collecting the sugary liquid. The lower level of the tower has dynamic sling triangle flexform seats. Bog stilts are creatively designed to look like sap buckets. A large log jam in the middle of the playground appears as a tangle of fallen trees in the forest. It offers graduated play opportunities for children to develop their risk assessment skills.
The entire playground is filled with unprescribed play opportunities over a large area and among the many other other park features. The full site was designed by FRP Inc. and includes a quarter pipe, free skate zone, pickle ball court, basketball nets, toboggan hills, outdoor fitness equipment and a splash pad. It is the newest and largest destination recreation space for the growing city of Orillia, a gateway city to Muskoka.