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Fun for dads _ oh yeah, and kids too

Published Sep. 2, 2005

A local play group offers a new twist on a popular pastime for parents and children.

Partners in Play, which has offered daytime play groups for moms and toddlers in Clearwater and Oldsmar since 1989, recently started an evening program for dads and their children.

"We would sometimes have a dad or two in the daytime classes, but most of the men work during the day," said owner Catherine Feyerabend. "I had a group of moms that said to me, "We need a little time to ourselves. Why don't you plan something at night for the dads?' "

The play groups are held at in rooms filled with brightly colored, tot-sized gymnastic equipment and mats. Children and their parents run, climb, blow bubbles and play with musical instruments and a parachute.

There are songs and nursery rhymes, as well as shrieks of delight from the tots, and pizza and juice for dinner.

"I spend a lot of time with my older children playing in the front yard and stuff, but not as much time with my youngest daughter, Kimberlee, who is 1," said Kirby Kindle of Dunedin.

Play groups are held at Christian Family Outreach Center, 13902 W Hillsborough Ave. in the County Line Plaza in Oldsmar, and Northwood Presbyterian Church, 2875 SR 580 in Clearwater.

The $8 cost for the daddy/child group includes dinner for a parent and a child ages 1 (or younger if walking) to 5. Beginning in April, the groups will meet the first and third Mondays of each month.

Kindle, 41, said he works hard during the day as a salesman and admits he has trouble putting his work to the side when he gets home.

"If I don't make time to play, things just seem to get pushed to the back burner," he said. "This is a great way for dads and their kids to play together."

Besides the daddy and toddler groups, Partners and Play also offers traditional daytime programs for children from 5 months to 5 years old and their parents. Feyerabend, 43, also offers dance and gymnastics classes and birthday parties.