Have fun. Violators will be prosecuted.

It’s a serene setting: a community park in the verdant, affluent borough of Glen Gardner, New Jersey, population 1,700.Glen Gardner playgroundThe park is almost as obscure as the borough itself, which consists primarily of a main street that runs parallel to the lightly traveled Route 31, with a creek and a thick wall of trees separating the two roads. If someone took you here blindfolded, then removed the blinders, you’d never guess that New York City is less than 60 miles away. Glen Gardner is the sort of crossroads community that might get named after the innkeeper who first staked out the land. And, according to the borough’s website, that really was the case: it was called Eveland’s Tavern until the mid 19th century, after John Eveland, whose family long operated an eatery in the venerable structure that today houses the Glen Gardner Inn.

But, lest you completely lose your inhibitions at this oasis that sits squarely at Glen Gardner’s most prominent intersection (it only has a few others), the authorities will remind you that you need to rein it in.

Glen Gardner park regs

None of these regulations are, in and of themselves, particularly radical in this day and age. So why does this sign look so draconian? My guess is it’s the fact that each regulation appears on a separate notification, using different color schemes and font for the most part. The legislators of Glen Gardner probably have good reason for this: most likely, they didn’t devise the laws all at once, so each one received its own sign upon adoption. And different visuals help each one stand out distinctly. But the aesthetics make it seem like we can only anticipate a few more to get tacked on as the years progress. And they probably will. But wouldn’t it look a lot less like a killjoy if they consolidated the rules onto one placard?

As it’s currently arranged, the rules supersede the recreation. It’s almost extreme enough to look like the sort of public service announcement you might see in notoriously regulation-happy Singapore.

Singapore is chock full of helpful public service announcements reminding everybody to be fine, upstanding citizens, as well as to be on the lookout for deviants. I particularly like the poster on the upper left: "You cannot be sure he is not a molester."

I take that back. Nothing is extreme as Singapore. Keep trying, Mr. Gardner.

6 thoughts on “Have fun. Violators will be prosecuted.

  1. Brian M

    No teen repellant system, though?

    (Speakers that put out a higher pitched whine to discourage miscreant youts from gathering in a park)

    1. AmericanDirt Post author

      I think the popular name for those devices is “mosquitos”….they’re apparently very common at gas (“petrol”) stations in the UK to fend off the troublesome kids (“chavs”).

      Another trick I’ve heard: play nothing but classical music on the speakers. That’ll keep the yutes away!

        1. AmericanDirt Post author

          Indeed, lite rock might scare the teens away…but not the hipsters. Eric Carmen, Richard Marx, even Chris de Burgh, and, of course, the entire “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack. They’re eating that stuff up right now.

  2. Pete W

    Very good one Eric. On my many runs across the country, I say “catch me if you can” as I still use kids’ playgrounds to do pull ups, stretches, etc! For me, playgrounds were another microcosm – who was brave enough to hang upside down from the METAL monkey bars? If big kids came, would we run away, get someone’s big brother or defend our turf? Here’s the closer-(when 18 was legal drinking age) on HS graduation night as we roamed New Providence, NJ stopping at a bunch of great parties, one of our stops was our favorite playground where we sat on the swings and shared a six pack of the Champagne of Beers!

    1. AmericanDirt Post author

      Thanks for the comments, Pete, and sorry for my delay in responding. The move is still taking most of my time. Yes, in our more innocent times, public playgrounds were broadly open to everyone with few or no restrictions. These days, we can attribute the regulations to at least two major factors, and I’m not sure which one is worse: the overriding fear of sex offenders (aka “lurkers”) or the relentlessly litigious culture that, in many respects, protects kids from being kids.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. You are not required to sign in. Anonymous posting is just fine.