Children of all ages recently gathered at the castle in City Park’s Storyland playground for the last magical event of the summer — Mother Goose’s 349th birthday party.
The ideal setting for such an occasion, Storyland’s storybook-themed playground boasts 25 different characters — all from children’s tales — along with a giant dragon slide and real fire engine. It has been a fixture in City Park since the 1950s.
Resident Fairy Godmother Merrilypop served as the official mistress of ceremonies for the event, leading an enthusiastic group of young revelers in an afternoon that featured a magic teapot, enchanted coloring books and jewelry boxes, and all-you-could-eat cookies and lemonade.
Looking amazing for her age, Mother Goose herself made a surprise appearance for some hugs, along with Uncle Wayne and the Porta-Puppet Players.
And of course, no Storyland party could be complete without a little nursery rhyme karaoke.
A tax accountant by day, Merrilypop has been Storyland’s Fairy Godmother since 1988. She says her alter ego allows her to “get the best of both worlds — a little reality, and some fantasy when I need it.”
“And believe me,” she adds, “I can slide down those slides as good as anyone.”
Mother Goose’s birthday party was the finale to a long list of events Merrilypop and her group, the Storyland Players, presents each summer at Storyland. Her favorite, she says, has to be her Fairytale Balls.
“When you see those children strutting in here in the costumes, well, it’s just the cutest thing ever,” she said.
Next up on the Storyland event schedule is Ghosts in the Oaks, presented by Friends of City Park. From Oct. 24 to 25, the playground will play host to a pumpkin patch and some spirited trick-or-treating.
Storyland is open Tuesdays through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission is $4 per person; children 36 inches and under are free.