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The Play Pen fun for kids, new option for parents

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Antrez Wood, 7, swings on a merry-go-round like ride at The Play Pen, Friday, November 10, 2017.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Devon and Shawn Mayfield opened an indoor playground in Elizabeth City partly because they were looking for safe, fun things for their own son to do.

“We actually have a 4-year-old son and he played a major role in it,” Shawn Mayfield said last week. She and her husband, Devon, opened The Play Pen on Nov. 10 at the corner of Elizabeth and Poindexter streets.

Devon Mayfield said that on weekends and at some other times they had looked for things to do with their son in Elizabeth City and often ended up just driving around and not really doing anything. He said they also ended up having birthday parties for him at restaurants that were more oriented toward adult patrons and didn’t really have anything for kids to do at the party.

He said they were looking for something that would provide an activity they could do with their son.

“And something affordable,” Shawn Mayfield added. She also noted that sometimes the weather is not conducive to playing outdoors.

The couple, with their son, had gone to some play areas in Virginia with a bouncy-house, but those tended to have a lot of older children there and didn’t allow parents in the play area with their kids, Devon said.

That got them thinking about wanting to offer a place where parents could keep up with their child and also a place where the kids would be similar in age.

The Play Pen offers one area for children 6 and under and a separate space for 2 and under. Eventually they hope to expand with a space set aside for older children. 

“We would kind of keep that idea going,” said Devon Mayfield, explaining that they want children playing around kids of a similar age.

The play space features a padded mat for safety and equipment such as a slide, spinning tea cups, a ball pit and an interactive floor piano.

The Mayfields are both Elizabeth City natives and both have business degrees from Elizabeth City State University. In addition, Shawn Mayfield has a master’s degree in adult education and higher education from Morehead State.

“It’s funny how I ended up working with children,” she said.

The couple leased the building in July and spent about four months getting it ready to open as The Play Pen. Part of the 2,600-square-foot building, is being used as a room that can be reserved for birthday parties.They plan eventually to also offer events geared toward parents.

The cost is $6 an hour and $3 an hour for “crawlers” — those children who are not yet walking. All day play is available for $12 a day and $6 a day for crawlers.

Parents are expected to supervise their children, with assistance from the staff. The business also will offer special times when drop-in play will be available. On Black Friday they will have drop-in play from 7 - 9 a.m. to give parents time to do some shopping without the kids.

Membership options are in the works.

“That’s probably our main request is memberships,” Devon Mayfield said.

Free WiFi and free coffee are available for parents while their kids play.

The Play Pen is open Monday - Thursday from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Friday - Saturday from 10 a.m. - 8 p.m., and Sunday from 1-6 p.m.

For more information call 698-0299.

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