Days are numbered for riding toys at Burbank playground

City officials this month announced plans to remove a growing collection of used riding toys from the playground at Lincoln Park in Burbank, frustrating parents who say the toys are a draw for them and their children.

Over the years, the playground has accumulated dozens of kid cars — including dump trucks, colorful rolling animals and fire trucks — which, according to local parents, were left behind for communal use.

City officials believe the toys create a "safety hazard to park visitors" and on Aug. 21, will remove and donate all toys left at the park, according to a notice posted on the playground gate Aug. 10.

They will be donated to organizations such as the American Cancer Society, Goodwill and La Providencia, which is a local guild that support Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

But parents who visited the park Monday called the toy collection harmless and convenient, noting that it saves parents the headache of having to schlep their own toys to the park from home.

"That's why we come here," said Hollywood resident Lizz Henderson, 32, as her son Brixton shoveled sand into his favorite dump truck. "It should be up to the parents to decide whether or not it's safe for their child."

Sarah Brdarebic, 27, called the park's communal toy culture "refreshing." All afternoon, her 3-year-old daughter, Lilly Jimenez, called the hot pink Barbie and Disney princess cars she lined up her "treasures."

Kim Loffredo, a Burbank mother of three, taught her son Daniel to walk using the push-and-pull toys on the playground.

"This provided the perfect practice area," she said, referring to the concrete track bordering the slide and swing set. "He needed a push toy to get his confidence up. So, big sis could go and play — I didn't have to worry about her — and he and I could work on walking."

On top of that, she added, the toys teach kids to share.

When Loffredo told her 5-year-old daughter Emily about the looming change, her eyes widened.

"Then we won't have anything to play with," Emily said.

Burbank father Piero Vasquez, 40, said the toy collection makes the park unique, and is often the park's most popular item.

"If you look around right now, how many people are actually playing on the playground? None," he said.

But officials are concerned about being held liable for accidents involving the used toys because the city isn't in charge of maintaining the collection and they want to avoid turning the park into a dumping ground, said city spokesman Drew Sugars.

"Toys are still allowed there," Sugars said. "We're just asking that people take the toys with them when they leave."


Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.


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