Thousands of kids say 'Let's Play' at Tacoma Dome

Staff writerJanuary 18, 2014 

Fencing, unicycles and synchronized swimming don’t immediately come to mind as ways to keep children active and occupied.

But when kids can try all of them for free, why not test the waters?

The third annual Let’s Play Sports & Fitness Experience gave hundreds of families that opportunity Saturday, offering a wide range of sports and activities to kids of all ages and abilities, free of charge, all day at the Tacoma Dome.

The one-day event, organized by the nonprofit Tacoma South Sound Sports, was expected to draw about 8,000 people. It attracted more than 6,000 last year, said event director Emily Tollefson.

More than 200 volunteers helped coordinate 50-plus activities for kids to try, from traditional sports such as basketball and soccer to unconventional ones including cup stacking and hurling.

“We’re just involved in any sports,” Tollefson said.

Shelli Williams, vice president of marketing for the nonprofit, said more than 40 partner organizations and clubs helped with the various activities.

The event got started as a way to promote club growth in Pierce County. It gives exposure to activities that kids and others may not know about, Tollefson said.

“It’s part of our mission to go out and support these clubs in any way we can,” she said.

Some of the most popular activities Saturday included the zip line, skateboarding and Zumba. Sounders athletes from the U-23 and women’s teams signed autographs and hosted challenges for those interested in soccer, and aspiring baseball players got to monitor their pitching speeds.

Volunteers, parents and kids alike were booty-shaking to current popular artists and classic upbeat hits on the Zumba demonstration floor.

Directly behind the dancers, 10-year-old Christine Cook of University Place tried her hand at fencing.

Although she initially thought it was “creepy,” she warmed up to the new sport after defeating her opponent. Cook, who has participated in club swimming for two years, was attending Saturday’s event for the first time. “I like that I can try new sports,” she said.

Paul Jensen, sales manager for the entertainment company Clowns Unlimited, said the company’s indoor zip line “is very popular,” adding that it attracted a half-hour wait all day. The company also had a rock-climbing wall on site.

Tollefson said the best part about Let’s Play is having so many different sports in “one day, one room” that are accessible.

“You just show up and go,” she said.

Kari Plog: 253-597-8682
Follow Kari on Twitter: @KariPlog

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