Much to the approval of a crowd of children, a new indoor play area was unveiled Friday at St. Clair Square.
Encompassing more than 1,000 square feet, the play area features a collection of soft, colorful structures for climbing and exploring.
Cara Barret, a mother of two, was excited to finally see the play area completed.
“We’ve been wondering when they were going to finish it,” Barret said. “It’s great. It’s just really great. We’ll be coming back here for a long time.”
Christopher Collier, an auto technician student, said, “I think it’s great. It’s something fun for the kids to do. It’s good for the community. It teaches them healthy things about their bodies. Its just a good place for them to go and have fun. I brought my little brothers, my niece and my nephew. When my baby is bigger, I’ll probally have him in there too.”
Tina Hall, a mother of one, said, “I really like it. It’s a very good place for the kids to have when it’s winter, or it’s too hot. I really like it. I think it will bring the mall more business, too.”
She added, “The kids love it. I tried to get my daughter to leave, and she don’t want to.”
Michael Hagen, general manager of St Clair Square, said: “It gives the kids a chance to play and have fun while the parents can shop. Play areas are pretty common in malls. I was suprised we didn’t have one already. Once I found a location, I found a partnership and it was a perfect fit.”
The play area is sponsored by St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Belleville and Home Care Southern Illinois, both of which are a part of Hospital Sisters Health System.
The pieces of the play set were all custom-built. It features a model of the new St. Elizabeth’s Hospital being built in O’Fallon.
St. Elizabeth’s spokeswoman Kelly Barbeau said: “St. Clair Square serves families throughout the region, as do we, so this is the perfect partnership. We are proud to bring this new play area as an added activity for children visiting the mall.”