Saturday, September 8, 2012 was a beautiful day in the Twin Cities. My college roommate’s baby was one day old, it was another friend’s birthday, and the kids and I were up for some outdoor adventure.
Our first stop was the Children’s Book Festival. The Festival is sponsored by Target each year and was held at the Hyland Lake Park Reserve (part of the Three Rivers Parks District). I read on Lollipopolis –no wait, it was Pocket Your Dollars— that we should try to catch a shuttle. However, I had no idea how to find the parking lots with a shuttle.
So in a blind leap of faith, I packed a small lunch, loaded the kids in the van, and started driving. Since the exit from 35 W South going onto 494 West is closed, once again, I had to maneuver my way around the south metro. I am not from the south metro. I don’t maneuver around that well, but once I saw the ski jump, I shouted for joy!
I had gotten us to the right spot. Again. Praise!
As we got closer, we started seeing signs for “Book Festival Parking.”
Easy peasy. No worries. This was going to be a cinch.
We parked in the first lot we found, got out of the van, wandered over to the bus, heard we were in the pink parking lot, and boarded. It was an old city bus, and everyone had fun sitting (or standing) in the very back of the bus!
When we arrived at the park, we walked through a gateway and into a wonderful festival of fun.
Including these funny looking Target/go carts. They didn’t get to actually move them, but sitting in them and pretending to drive was pretty thrilling.
Booths with different activities and information were set up all over the park, just down the hill from the play area. (which I made sure the kids knew that we were NOT going to play there)
Booths included the Children’s Museum, the Walker Art Center, the MN Center for Book Arts, Stages Theatre, the Youth Performance Company, and many more. There were food booths and a great big book store tent.
The main attraction was a stage that hosted many well-loved authors reading their books and many children’s musicians. Honestly, we didn’t make it to the stage, but we could hear the readings and the musicians.
In the middle of the walk, was a big tent called the Target Storybook Station. Carpets and bean bags and benches were set up all throughout the large tent with shelves of books. We were able to sit down and read.
The Storybook Station also had other activities on white boards like coloring, word finds, and matching games.
It was a whimsical place to imagine and pretend.
Of course, on the lawn, they had these silly things which are so pointless. But it made my crew happy!
These was an area pretty deep into the Festival full of activities like bouncy houses and a rock climbing wall. I didn’t want to take time to do that because we had some other things to do , BUT this was a very popular part of the Festival.
And being a family friendly event, Target thought of everything including a place to change your smelly bottomed little ones!
The thing that remains seared on my heart, though, did not have anything to do the activities provided by the Festival. What I will forever and always remember about this day was how fast the staff responded to an emergency.
JackJack has always been a wanderer, but as he has gotten older, he has gotten faster. For some reason, when I turned my back to quick chat with one of the representatives at a booth, I thought my other three would keep track of him and each other.
Except that I didn’t tell them to do that for me. So I turned from my brief conversation, and I couldn’t find my 2 year old. We were right in the middle of the activity, so I didn’t know if he had gone right or left. And I sure hoped he hadn’t fallen in the lake (which was pretty far, so I didn’t let myself go there yet). A kind lady stayed with my other three while I started walking one direction and then, the other.
Finally, I stopped by the Storybook Station to ask a staff member if he had seen a little boy go by. He said, no, but they would get right on it. He radioed the man in charge, who was by my side in less than a minute. They took my little guy’s name and description and radioed the entire staff. Everyone was on the lookout for a little blondie in camo pants and a tigger t-shirt (yeah, he didn’t match. It could have been embarrassing if I had really cared at that moment!). I didn’t know what to do, so I asked the guy what I was supposed to do and where I should go, and as one of his staff members was directed to take me to the information booth, he got word on his radio they had found JackJack on the opposite end of the park. I screamed for my other three to follow me as the Target security staff hustled us toward the direction Jack Jack was. They held hands and pushed through the crowd, not losing sight of me! I was so proud of them.
And there he was, in the arms of one of the most beautiful Target staff members I have ever seen. However, I was so focused on him, I don’t remember what she looked like.
The whole thing was less than 10 minutes. It may have even been less than 5 minutes. I can tell you that those were very long minutes. The whole incident still makes me sick. I’m just grateful for the care and sobriety of the Target team. They take their job seriously, and if needed, they will take care of you.
It was wonderful. I will put it on my calendar to go again next year. I highly recommend this activity!