stories by Kale and Kelsey Elmhorst • photography by Jordan Weiland
Lakeland’s fresh air and sunshine provide endless opportunities for happy days — for both parents and kids. Sweaty and smelly, out of breath, and filled with laughter, playing outside is an automatic elixir for a bad mood, a worn-out brain, and a tired spirit. Dirty feet and happy souls make for some of the best creative moments and childhood memories. So, this summer, abandon your video games and get outside! Climb a tree, grab a hula hoop and a friend, build a fort, draw on the sidewalk, blow some bubbles, and play! Here, two Lakeland kids, Kale and Kelsey Elmhorst, recount fond memories of playing outside
One day I was playing Minecraft, and my mom said, “Go out and get some exercise.” Lucky for me, at that same time the doorbell rang. “What a coincidence,” I grumbled. It was my friend Grandon. “Can you come to Will’s house?” he mumbled, because he was so tired from running around the neighborhood gathering all the boys. “Yes,” I said. When I arrived at Will’s house, I asked Nate, “Are we playing Matrix Whiffleball?” “Yeah,” he said. The rules are very similar to baseball, but in Matrix Whiffleball if the ball hits a bush, tree, anything except the ground, and you catch it, the person who hit the ball is out. Grandon was the pitcher on this day. First up to bat was Nate. He hit a double to the left. Next went Will, and it was a single to the middle. Next, it was my turn. Personally, I’m not a heavy hitter, but I am pretty fast. I ended up hitting a single to the right and avoided a peg from David. Nate ran to home base, and the score was 1-0. Nate was up at bat again. He struck out. Now, there are two outs remaining. Will hits a single and narrowly misses a peg from Cole. Now it is my turn again and it is a homerun, and the score is 3-0. How did I do that? I thought. Nate is up again, and it is another homerun, 4-0. Will is at bat, and it is a Matrix out. The ball hit the bushes and didn’t hit the ground, and Cole retrieved it. Nate and I both hit a double, and the first-inning score was 5-0.
THIS SUMMER, ABANDON YOUR VIDEO GAMES AND GET OUTSIDE! CLIMB A TREE, GRAB A HULA HOOP AND A FRIEND, BUILD A FORT, DRAW ON THE SIDEWALK, BLOW SOME BUBBLES, AND PLAY!
LAKELANDER SCAVENGER HUNT
created by Laney Blair
Take pictures of yourself doing these 10 things across Lakeland. Feel free to include your family and friends as well. Then, have your parents share the pictures individually or as a collage on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #lakelanderscavengerhunt. Each photo is worth five points. Be the first to earn 50 points, and you’ll win a very special summer-fun prize from The Lakelander. Answers will be posted online at thelakelander.com and on our Facebook page on June 27th. Good luck, and have fun!
1. Lakeland has 38 named lakes. This is the largest of them all. It’s also a popular place for catching largemouth bass. Get your picture acting like a fish in front of it.
2. This park was the first “inclusive” park in Polk County. That means children with disabilities can easily play along with children without. Get a picture posing upside-down.
3. This entertainment venue includes arcade games, a ball pit, and a mini golf area, as well as laser tag and a laser maze. Take a picture with the kids painted on the wall outside.
4. This theatre was built in 1928. Most of the Italian renaissance-style architecture looks the same as it did when it was first built thanks to restorations in the 1980s. Since Elvis once performed here, take a picture by the ticket booth posing like this megastar.
5. If Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Andy Warhol came to Lakeland, they’d probably like to visit this place first. If you work on your art skills, you could even be featured here someday. Take a picture giving a high-five to the painted hands in the middle of this place’s parking lot.
6. This reserve has the most impressive bird population in Lakeland. Alligators are often seen blocking the walking paths. While it used to be a cattle ranch, in 2005 it was restored to its natural state as a freshwater marsh. Be brave, go for a walk, and take a picture with the coolest bird you see.
7. At this museum you can see one-of-a-kind and antique aircraft, some of which are over a hundred years old! Get a picture with the red, white, and blue statue by the gate.
8. If you want a celebratory treat fit for a giant, don’t worry about climbing a bean stalk. Just look at the top of this tower! When you take this picture, smile like it’s your birthday, and this treat is all for you.
9. No, it’s not a magic trick! At this field, tigers really do play together and are even said to fly. At one time, 8,500 people can pay to watch these special tigers do their thing. Get a picture pretending to play ball out front.
10. If you want to go out to watch your favorite heroes battle or an adventurer look for lost treasure, relax outside in front of this location’s big screens. Stand in front of its 63-year-old neon sign, and take a picture like you’re walking down the red carpet.
Lakeland has a rich history displaying art sculptures around the city. As you’re looking for the answers to the clues above, earn two extra points for each of these sculptures that you take a photo with:
• one butterfly sculpture
• one swan sculpture
• one statue of a child
• one sculpture of another animal
• The Spirit of Volunteerism sculpture
ANSWERS WILL BE POSTED ONLINE AT THELAKELANDER.COM AND ON OUR FACEBOOK PAGE ON JUNE 27TH.