Where to Cool Off the Kids on a Hot Day in Park Slope

By Leslie Albrecht on July 15, 2013 7:51am 

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 These neighborhood playground sprinklers and water features offer splashy fun.
Playgrounds with Spray Fountains in Park Slope
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PARK SLOPE — In a neighorhood notorious for allowing babies in bars, there are still some watering holes where wee ones won't get the stink eye.

Here's a look at family-friendly places to go for a cold one — as in playgrounds with spray fountains for kids.

J.J. Byrne Playground, Fifth Avenue between Third and Fourth streets

Park Slope got a welcome new arrival to the water feature scene last year when J.J. Byrne Playground reopened after a renovation. The sprawling play complex now has water cannons that kids can shoot at each other, in keeping with the playground's proximity to the site of the Battle of Brooklyn. There are also gentler sprays for toddlers.

Since it's reopening, it's become a destination playground, even for power moms like Beyonce, who visited recently with daughter Blue Ivy, and neighborhood celeb Maggie Gyllenhaal. Locals say it still retains a community feel, but it can be quite crowded on hot days, and the rocks near some of the water features can be a little dangerous, said dad Jon Sinovoi, who visited recently with 2-year-old Theo and 4-year-old Lila.

"There's a sense of community," Sinovoi said. "The same people come out here a lot. It's very much a neighborhood playground."

Slope Park, Sixth Avenue and 18th Street

This South Slope playground next to P.S. 295 was closed for an upgrade for more than a year, but reopened in June 2013, much to the relief of neighborhood families. It was packed on a recent 90-plus degree day and fully dressed kids couldn't resist throwing themselves into the brand new spray fountain. The playground also has a water pump kids can turn themselves, and play structures that look similar to those at J.J. Byrne.

"It's a huge improvement," said dad Jeff Rotter of the renovated play space. "The water feature combines cooperative play and just complete chaos, which is a good combination." Rotter's 6-year-old son Felix was soaked head-to-toe and had discovered that the spray fountain could also be used for giving his scooter a bath.

Hamony Playground, Prospect Park, 11th Street and Prospect Park West

This music-themed playground tucked behind the Prospect Park bandshell has a fountain sculpted to look like a giant harp, with tinkling streams of water instead of strings. The cooling instrument is a hit with kids, who use it to fill up cups, then dump them out over and over again.

Vanderbilt Playground, Prospect Park, Prospect Park Southwest and Vanderbilt Street

This play area on the Windsor Terrace side of the park is a social hub for kids and caretakers alike, said Annemarie, a nanny watching three boys on a recent hot day. Adults sit in the shade and supervise while kids divide into armies and wage pitched water gun battles, using the playground's sprayer as a refueling station. There's also a separate, fenced off area with its own water feature just for smaller children.

"It's a place for everybody to come when the heat is on. The kids enjoy it a lot," Annemarie said.

Park Slope Playground, between Berkeley Place and Lincoln Place, Fifth and Sixth avenues

This humble playground behind P.S./M.S. 282 is smaller and older than fancier play areas like J.J. Byrne, but it's also quieter. The sprayers are plain concrete blocks — no artfully designed fountains here. "It's convenient and it's not too crowded," said mom Kim, who was visiting with her 2-year-old daughter. "J.J. Byrne is a nightmare for little kids."

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