March 27, 2005

Almost Enough To Make You Go Philly

Sunday's game was early and at the stadium of the Philadelphia Phillies, but, after a couple trips to the beach, my flip flops reeked of dead fish. I couldn't represent in away stadiums smelling like low tide, so we headed to Splash to find some cheap sandals.

Splash is a chintzy souvenir shop where I would later return to buy chintzy souvenirs for everyone back home. Today, though, we just made our way to the back of the building where they had what I expected: an enormous rack of clearance footwear. I got some $6 flip flops with big 3″ soles. Cool.

Finally, we were on our way to the game. Jon missed the turn to take regular highway 41, so we ended up on business 41. It was an interesting drive through town, and we got to go over a different bridge. We finally found the stadium, and we were surprised at how much like a regular-season stadium it was. The shops, seats, and everything felt just like the regular season, only in miniature.

As we went in, the ticket-taker gave Winter a little packet of baseball cards. We found our seats and first watched the children of the stadium workers have an Easter egg “hunt” in the outfield. They also announced that a few hundred eggs were hidden around the stadium, but we never saw them. What we did see was some relatively cheap nachos that was enjoyed in the shade before the start of the game.

Finally the game started. It was lackluster, like the players didn't really care, so when Winter asked to go on a walk, I said I would take him. I planned to find a philly cheesesteak sandwich, since this stadium even had Philly foods for sale (alternately, you cannot get Skyline chili at Ed Smith to save your life). We didn't find the sandwich, but we did find the Kids' Zone: a full-on playground, inflated trampoline house, and kid-centric snack area, plus bunches of potential playmates for Winter. Seeing the Kids' Zone was probably the single most exciting moment in the trip for Winter.

Which might be why he wasn't thinking clearly and immediately ran under the monkey bars where he promptly was kicked in the face by a much bigger boy who was innocently swinging along. But Winter was stunned for only a moment, and the big red welt he was developing wasn't bleeding, so he went back to playing.

Maybe two innings later, Winter noticed the giant inflatable SpongeBob Square Pants trampoline house. He announced that he was done playing here; he wanted to play there. We went over just in time to join a group of other 3 and 4 year olds taking off their shoes and getting ready to crawl inside the flap. I stood outside watching through the net while he hopped around, giggling gleefully with every bounce. He was so happy that he drew the attention of the woman standing beside me who said that they come down from Philly every year for spring training, and they can never get their daughter to leave the Kids' Zone. A true family vacation.

The game ended with the Phillies beating the Reds, but the kids in the Kids' Zone did not clear out. We soon learned that the family-friendly park stays open after the games. On this night there was a musical performer and you could hang around at the restaurants. We even saw a couple of the Phillies players come out to mingle with the crowds and sign autographs.

Winter played on the playground until he could no longer keep himself upright in his exhaustion, and Jon carried the tired little guy out to the car. Right in the parking lot, we saw a pizza place that advertised during the game, so we drove some 50 feet over there and had a lovely meal.

All in all, just about enough to make you a Phillies fan, if only for spring training.

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