Preschool Association to Host ‘Campout’ at Park and School

Get your flashlights ready: The City Council has approved a request from the University Park Preschool Association for a brand-new event next spring.

“UP All Night” will be an “urban campout” held at Curtis Park and UP Elementary. Because the group expects between 200 and 250 families (meaning roughly 700 people), it was the first event to need approval since the massive overhaul of the city’s park regulations.

“This is kind of a unique item; we’ve never done anything to this scale,” parks director Gerry Bradley said.

Curtis Park is the arena for only some activities; once the sleepover starts, campers will head into the elementary school.

“Our goals are to get families together before getting to the elementary school to build a sense of community,” UPPA president Meegan Cramer said.

Though the event is intended for fathers and kids, the moms don’t get off scot-free. UPPA moms must volunteer to work 2.5-hour shifts if their families are participating.

Inspiration for “UP All Night” came from a similar event in Houston’s West University neighborhood called “Fathers and Flashlights.” The committee hopes to keep the camping spirit alive so the festivities stand out from ordinary carnival activities.

Before approving the item, council members had a few questions. For one, the committee plans to hire a crossing guard to help attendees at the Lovers Lane crossing. But Councilwoman Dawn Moore wanted to make sure that would be enough.

“What I do submit to you mothers is the park is open, so it just scares me that kids will run across the street to get back to the playground, so I’m hoping you have that all figured out,” Moore said.

As for parking, Cramer predicts the parking in front of the school and the Holmes Aquatic Center will be plenty. The committee will also make sure there will be at least three portable restrooms.

All lights will be off by 9:15 p.m. out of respect for neighbors. In addition, the group will put door hangers out to notify residents weeks in advance.

The dates are set for April 12-13. Check-in will start at 2 p.m., and breakfast the following day will be wrapped up by 8:30 a.m.

The council technically approved only the use of Curtis Park; HPISD is in charge of approvals for school property, but UP Elementary principal Lynda Carter already sent her letter of approval to the council.

With the official green light from the council, the moms of UPPA have months to prepare an event that will be both safe and fun, and hopefully build toward future events.

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