A Prairie Playground: River Prairie Park is a great draw for kids

Yia Lor

SPLASH AROUND! PLAY AT THE PARK! Between the stream, the splash pad, the cabins, and the Fairy Garden, The Altoona River Prairie Park has become a popular play-site for kids.
SPLASH AROUND! PLAY AT THE PARK! Between the stream, the splash pad, the cabins, and the Fairy Garden, The Altoona River Prairie Park has become a popular play-site for kids.

This summer, kids of all ages are heading over to Altoona’s River Prairie Park where they can enjoy the fairy garden, soak their feet in the winding stream, and play in the splash pad to their heart’s content. The park has become the Valley’s newest hot spot, and it promises to keep everyone cool and entertained, especially on those sticky summer days.

“We’re only limited by our imagination,” said Altoona City Administrator Mike Golat. “The space is created to allow for so many things and so many possibilities.”

The park is a part of the River Prairie development, which was a community effort to give Altoona its own unique identity. The development provides a public space for a variety of activities, from living spaces and places to grab a bite to music events and weddings. In fact, the park has already hosted numerous concerts and over 40 weddings during its first year. Soon, it will also be home to an evening farmers market, perfect for folks needing to pick up something for dinner.

According to Golat, the development was designed for just that, allowing people of all ages to enjoy themselves by providing a variety of recreational activities where everyone, including pets, are welcomed. The River Prairie Park engages daily with surrounding businesses and the Eau Claire River. Folks living in the apartments are able to walk right into the park and stroll through plenty of green space. Restaurant-goers can watch a concert from the deck of Cowboy Jack’s. They can also grab a bite at ZA 51, and soon, 44 North and Cabin Coffee will be joining the list of eateries.

“We implemented policies and built infrastructures to make the park space fun and engaging to visitors, and it appears to be working,” said Golat.

Kevin Sommerfeld left the Valley for Texas but returned this summer with his wife and two-year old son. They spent the afternoon at the park where his son could enjoy some cool, wet fun in the splash pad.

“The naturesque creek built to run through the area was an inventive idea to safely bring nature to children,” Sommerfeld said. “An all-around fun and budget friendly summer option, it was definitely worth the trip.”

It is no surprise that kids of all ages will have a splashing time at River Prairie Park this summer and many more summers to come. The park provides a learning environment for kids to grow and develop with new experiences. It also encourages neighbors to gather, and it’s evident that it will serve as a touchstone for all those who live and play here.

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