Clemyjontri Park

As a father, I am always on the hunt for a decent playground.  But that's just it, playgrounds are simply decent.  There isn't anything unique or extraordinary about them.

Some have swings, a major plus for many children, of course, although limited to two swings, if we are lucky.  But with a ratio of say perhaps 100 kids (I'm exaggerating, of course) to one swing on any given day, this could certainly put a damper on a visit when your kids are particularly looking forward to hopping on a swing but must wait a turn that may never come around.  I should also add that I often find only one swing in working order on many a occasion.  What luck!

Others have the typical climbing challenges that, of course, provide the necessary interactive sensory experiences...most modern ones anyway.  And many playgrounds have been upgraded with new equipment with limited obstruction to help parents keep an eye on their children.  They also include interactive learning panels and attachments that encourage creativity and involvement.  But, in my opinion, they still fall short of stellar.  Where one park excels in one feature, it is likely to lack in other areas.  I still want the "oomph," the complete package.  Now, of course, I'm speaking from a parent's perspective.  Children, on the other hand, just don't think of any of these shortcomings.  Instead, they quickly and happily dive right into what they see before them.  This, however, doesn't keep me from seeking the best, and I think I found it.

Clemyjontri Park, a two-acre playground full of wonders!  The name is definitely a tongue-twister.  But there is good meaning behind it.  It derives from four of the park's benefactor's (Mrs. Adele Lebowitz) children: Carolyn (CL), Emily (EMY), John (JON), and Petrina (TRI) (source: Fairfax County).  As stated on the park's website, "this park is a place where children who use wheelchairs, walkers or braces, or who have sensory or developmental disabilities, can have a parallel playground experience of fun and exploration. At CLEMYJONTRI...."

The county even installed Virginia's first Liberty Swing, "a swing which allows wheelchair users the experience of swinging without having to transfer from their wheelchair."  Quite admirable, I must say!  It goes to show that the intention of this park is to serve children of all abilities.  The Liberty Swing requires a key to operate, which can be obtained through any of the staff members on duty (during the carousel's hours of operations) or by calling 703-388-2807.

Other features include a wheelchair-accessible carousel (at time of this writing, the fee is $1.75 per ride); the "Rainbow Room," an area that integrates sign, Braille, pictures, and language and includes an archway, a surface with colors of the rainbow, a variety of swings; a schoolhouse and maze; a transportation-themed area; and a fitness and fun section.  I, particularly, enjoy the paved roadway with road signs that simulates real driving scenarios.  Unfortunately, bikes, skateboards, scooters, rollerblades, etc. are not allowed in the park.  So, I was disappointed to find this at first but later understood the rule is there for safety.  It certainly didn't hamper the experience, thank goodness.

The picnic pavilion, which is rather "clean," open, and cleverly constructed and, more importantly, not located in the darkness of the woods, as typical of many picnic areas in other parks, can be rented through their reservation site.

Parking is limited, unfortunately, especially on weekends.  Thankfully, there is an overflow parking lot across Georgetown Pike, a short walk from the park.  The county does have plans to expand the park, which will ease the parking constraints and open the park up to trails, gardens, and a facility to perhaps cater to weddings and other functions.

The park's website doesn't do the park justice (no offense, Fairfax County).  More photos would help.

Nevertheless, take your children to experience it first hand.  I assure you it will be a memorable time, and if you're like me, you will notice the "oomph."

6317 Georgetown Pike
McLean, Virginia 22101

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Near the entrance of the park. 
Entrance and parking lot.

Near the entrance of the park.

Entrance and gateway to the Picnic Pavilion and Carousel. 



Simulated road instructions.



Simulated road signs.

Simulated road signs.

Playground. Notice the simulated roadway.


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