305603_304424209629987_246564067_nTyler Morning Telegraph-

Giggling children energetically raced around a local park Sunday afternoon, teddy bears in tow.

The Children’s Park of Tyler held its fifth annual Teddy Bear Picnic on Sunday.

The park, known for its large granite statue of two teddy bears playing, had an array of family-friendly activities, including face painting, story time, children’s music sing-alongs and balloon making.

Event organizer and park president Jennifer Carson said the free event is designed to allow families to explore the park and have a fun-filled day away from the chaos of daily life.

The park is dedicated to the memories of deceased children, and is one of the few Tyler parks void of playground equipment.

“We believe that natural play is an art, and it’s something that has been lost in our culture, so our kids to be able to come out and explore and use their imagination,” Ms. Carson said. “When we first opened this park people would say, ‘Where’s the playground equipment?’ and I would say, ‘You just watch. Watch them and see what they do.’”

Instead of hanging on monkey bars, children ran along paths playing tag, played with hula hoops and bounced around the stream that runs through the space.

Volunteer David Provines played ukulele music for the children and brought along play instruments so they could play along. He said the day was lovely with smiling children singing and motioning along to their favorite songs.

“A little girl younger than 1 sat on the steps with her grandmother, and she’s doing the ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’ motions (as I’m singing it),” he said. “It’s just nice. I like to do this kind of stuff.”

Ms. Carson said the event was not a fundraiser, but families could donate to the park’s upkeep and expansion if they chose.