New Playground at Nonotuck Park in Easthampton, Massachuestts

"In a clearing in the woods at Nonotuck Park in Easthampton, a wolf arches its head back, howling up at the sky.

But look at the creature from a different angle and you see it’s not a wolf, but an enormous plastic tree stump with a slide running down its middle.

A few yards away, giant mushrooms protrude like steps from a tree. They’re really plastic stairs leading up to a tree house where you can exit by zooming down a slide. Next to that there is another slide covered by two huge, overgrown plastic mushrooms. Not far from that is yet another one — a large green and blue striped slide where a little tyke can pick up some speed.

“It’s kind of Swiss Family Robinson,” said Susan Leber of Easthampton, who was at the playground with two of her grandchildren on a recent afternoon.

Big, bold, imaginative. Nonotuck Park Playground, once a collection of aging metal swings, a slide and monkey bars, has been transformed with a $195,000 state grant state grant into an enticing spot luring crowds of kids and their accompanying adults. Aside from the play structures so vivid they almost look animated, there is a spray park nearby that features a variety of shower heads.

“This is lots better than before,” said Ed Wagner, also of Easthampton, who was at the playground with his 10-year-old daughter, Casey."