Remember Field Day? For most of us, it was a hallowed year-end school tradition, right up there with ice cream socials, and signing yearbooks. The kids loved it, of course, and looked forward to it every year.
But not at Burns Park, one of Ann Arbor’s oldest, most desirable and most educated neighborhoods – and occasionally, one of its kookiest. There is a reason many townies jokingly refer to it as “The Republic of Burns Park.”
The Burns Park PTO might be the most active one in the state. In the late ’90s, some parents, led by a social work professor, decided the competitive spirit of Field Day was too much for the kids, and changed “Field Day” to “Friendship Day” – replacing foot races, long jumps and tug-of-wars with games that emphasized cooperation over competition.
A noble notion – but the kids hated it. During one event, a cross-section of students from all grades had to walk together on two long boards. The big kids kept yelling at the little ones to lift their left foot, then their right – but the first graders didn’t know which was which. They all fell over, and the first graders burst into tears.
I suspect that’s not exactly what the parents had in mind.