Illustrations by Kristy Heilenday
Park Rules Ilustrations
A few simple rules for harmony in the region's parks this summer
I love your green and leafy places. But I like them even more when they’re empty. Don’t we all, deep down, prefer our public parks with much less…public?
When it comes to basic outdoor civility, Belle Isle and Bryan Park operate like the Wild West. Pocahontas is a powder keg. Maymont is Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome with adorable baby animals. I know a one-patron-per-park policy isn’t practical. But maybe if there was some sort of “courtesy consensus” among Richmonders on how to behave, we’d be able to share our parks peacefully.
First and foremost, let’s acknowledge our mutual existence. For example, if you and I pass each other in the park, you are guaranteed a firm head nod followed by a mumble-mouthed “Howzitgoin” or “Gafternoon.” Unless, of course, I’m distracted by a butterfly or text message.
Please refrain from public displays of affection. Handholding and light smooching is fine, but knock off all that groping in the gazebo. You want to “run the bases” on a sunny day? Go play wiffleball.
Maintain your doggy distance. Four-legged friends make great park companions, except when they fight, poop, bark and pee. Have a veterinarian heavily sedate them, so you can push them around in a baby stroller.
Report all weird loners. All you shifty, shady types thinking of exorcising your lascivious demons in public…don’t. Stay home and keep your deviant hobbies to yourself (the same goes for hacky sackers and disc golfers).
If you’re going to take your child to the park, why not be present? Instead of sitting on the sidelines obsessively checking your smartphone, tap into that inner child who used to love swinging upside-down on the monkey bars. But keep your phone close by; it will be easier for the paramedics to find you.
When outdoors, please use your inside voices. Some of you talk too loud to each other and scream at your cell phones. This is unnecessary, especially when discussing topics such as lactose intolerance and infidelity.
Finally, no matter who you are, if you litter on purpose, you will forever after be known as a terrible, inconsiderate human being.
Maybe one small act of kindness can start a chain reaction of positive park karma. So let’s declare open season on rudeness and bury the corpse of bad manners in a shallow grave! See you at the swings.