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By Michele Lynn
The Hottest Spot for Tumbling Tots:
The Kids Gym program at Upper Noe Recreation Center is the place to be on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to noon. That's when busy toddlers, ages 1 to 3, can be found scampering in, out, over, and under playhouses, teeter-totters, climbing structures, trampolines, and slides of every shape and size.
Kids Gym's two rooms pulsate with the squeals of anywhere from 20 to 100 little acrobats, each with a parent or babysitter in tow. After an hour of play, everyone gathers around the piano for a 10-minute singing session led by recreation director Chris Borg and featuring such classics as Itsy Bitsy Spider and The Wheels on the Bus.
Kate Barrengos and her 2-year-old son Noah started hanging out at Kids Gym as soon as Noah was crawling. "There are tons of toys he can play with and lots of other kids he can see," says the Noe Street mom.
Castro Street resident Sandra Halladey has been a Kids Gym regular for years, first with daughter Emma, 3, and now with son William, 1. "Emma and I came every single Saturday and nearly every Tuesday for one and a half years. Now that William is old enough to enjoy it, we're back." When song time arrives, Emma can be seen doing her imitation of a teapot during -- you guessed it -- I'm a Little Teapot.
Borg notes that the program is a great place for toddlers to learn how to socialize and to share. "The singing helps develop their language skills, and the equipment helps their large muscular development," she says. "It's neat for them to come to an indoor playground. Safety is the key, and we always try to keep it clean."
Tuesdays generally draw 80 to 90, with about half as many kids attending on Saturdays. The cost is $15 for an 11-visit coupon or $2 to drop in, and the program runs year-round. Upper Noe Rec Center is located on Sanchez between Day and 30th streets. Enter next to the children's playground on the Day Street side. For more information on Kids Gym, or to find out how to rent it for a Saturday afternoon party, call Chris Borg at the Rec Center, 695-5011.