When I entered the bathroom in that stone building across the way, this playground looked more or less the way it does in this photo. But by the time I emerged back into daylight, a minute or two later, at least a hundred middle-school-aged kids had flooded into the central paved area. I figured they must be there for recess, about to start playing some game.
But then I thought I noticed a flailing of limbs and hair somewhere in the center of the mob. Were two girls fighting each other? Glancing to my left, I noticed a Parks employee standing idly by, watching the action like it was a TV show. A few moments later, two or three police officers came chugging into the playground on foot. The kids took off running and screaming in all directions, evaporating in a chaotic preadolescent whirlwind that made it impossible to determine who had been involved in the fracas. A minute later the playground was empty again.
I walked over to talk to the Parks lady, to verify that I had not just been hallucinating. She said these fights happen all the time once the weather warms up. The kids apparently use this playground as their standard dueling grounds, and hordes of them show up just after school lets out every time a fight is rumored. No one's been seriously hurt so far, but she's always worried someone's going to pull out a gun borrowed from some "crazy uncle".