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Potluck Picnic in the Park

Sack Races at Goddard State Park - kid o infoOur annual, treasured Potluck Picnic in the Park actually began out of sheer desperation two years ago when, a few weeks after our son was born, our daughter was turning two.

Up until a week before her birthday, I planned to host a party for our friends and family at our house, as I had done for her first birthday. And then sleep-deprivation and postpartum hormones kicked into high gear, and through my sobs I began trying to figure out how the heck to get out of the insanity that I had created for myself.

Remembering the wonderful collective first-birthday celebration my friends (aka the “Yoga Mamas”) held at Goddard Memorial Park the year before, I made a quick phone call to secure adjoining picnic sites for our celebration.

The party, which also celebrated Father’s Day, was so much fun that everyone, especially older relatives with fond memories of childhood picnics at Goddard and Pulaski parks, immediately started talking about making it an annual tradition.music at Goddard State Park - kid o info

Then this year, in the hopes of creating a more relaxing Father’s Day for my husband, who spent the last two schlepping gear to the park, moving picnic tables, and flipping burgers, we decided to celebrate the kids’ birthdays (quietly) on their actual birthdays, move the picnic to Memorial Day weekend, expand the invite list, and make it an (unofficial) start of summer party. And that’s just what we did!
And since all our guests brought the food, we got to focus on the really fun stuff!

I picked up burlap coffee bean bags ($1 a piece at Building 19) for sack races, a giant parachute ($24.95 at Target), hula hoops, balloons for animal-making (which, somewhere along the way, my husband has become quite proficient at), Frisbees, a wiffle ball and bat, a couple of Nerf balls, and plenty of jars of bubbles (all purchased at iParty).

I also invited our friends, three homeschooled sisters who take turns as our mother’s helper once a week, and their mother to play music for us later in the day.

There were a few challenges, like arriving an hour before the party was scheduled to begin and discovering a soccer match in progress on the field I had rented. And then discovering that all of our picnic sites were filled with other families (some of whom didn’t realize the sites were reserved and graciously finished up their picnics before our guests arrived, and others who really didn’t care that the sites were reserved because they were there first!), but overall the party was exactly what I hoped it would be — a perfect afternoon “date” spent relaxing in the park with family and friends!

Goddard State Park 1095 Ives Road, Warwick, Rhode Island 02818 (map it)
Information about renting picnic sites ($3 per day) or fields ($8 per day) at Goddard Memorial Park can be found online at www.riparks.com.
Phone: (401) 884-2010

Erin Goodman enjoys arranging special dates to have fun with her children, husband, friends, and occasionally alone! She shares these experiences with Kidoinfo readers in her column, It’s a date.

Next time: Just hop on the (RIPTA) bus, Gus!

Photo Credit: Erin Goodman

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  • Picnics are a great leisure activity. Considering the current economic situation, it is but normal to want to save money. Picnics are a great way to do this. The best part about picnics is that it really does help bond a family together through spending time together outside!

  • the building 19 i go to is in what i believe is an abandoned dog track in pawtucket. this is on the mysteriously named “beverage hill.” a creepy place with great finds! phaidon books, sticky toffee pudding in a can, and now we know…burlap sacks.

  • Great idea! Your party sounds like so much fun. And I love it that coffee bags are available at Building 19. We have been to some nice potluck-in-the-park events at Colt State Park in Bristol.