Free Family Fun

By Mike Bennett
An iguana at the Joseph Moore Museum on the campus of Earlham College. (Photo by Dave Eggen)

An iguana at the Joseph Moore Museum on the campus of Earlham College. (Photo by Dave Eggen)

With five children, Jessica Cooper knows the value of these two simple words: It’s free.  She counts on them, in fact, for activities around the year. “We’re always looking for things to do. Free is definitely a major plus,” said Cooper, a former Richmond resident who now lives in Straughn.

Kids have a hands on experience with microscopes at the Joseph Moore Museum on the campus of Earlham College. (Photo by Dave Eggen)

Kids have a hands on experience with microscopes at the Joseph Moore Museum on the campus of Earlham College. (Photo by Dave Eggen)

Her family also visits several other places that are available year-round, but tend to be more family-friendly in summer.  They include the large play area at Glen Miller Park and the trails and free activities at Cope Environmental Center.  A point of interest: There are less than 15 environmental centers/nature preserves in Indiana and Richmond has two of them: Cope and Hayes Arboretum.

New Richmond residents Dr. Erica Kretchman and her husband, Jason, love to visit Glen Miller Park’s play area, too, along with their young daughter, Elise, and son, Cameron.  “My favorite thing is to go down all of the slides,” Elise said during an outing on a recent warm and sunny evening.  The slides and other toys are unmistakable while driving by from two directions in the park — standing tall with their bright colors of oranges, reds and yellows.

The Cardinal Greenway in Richmond. (Photo by Dave Eggen)

The Cardinal Greenway in Richmond. (Photo by Dave Eggen)

After 45 minutes on the slides and climbing equipment, Elise and Cameron enjoyed another nearby activity that is a major draw for young families. “They love the splash pad,” Jessica Cooper said of her family that ranges in ages from 14 to less than a year old.  She often visits Springwood Park, which offers access to the Cardinal Greenway Trail — a popular attraction for all ages.  The Kretchmans are impressed with the number of activities for children in and around Richmond. “The Parks Department does so much here,” Jason said.

Erica works in endocrinology at Reid Health and Jason stays home with the children. “He’s good at looking up events and knowing what’s coming up,” she said.