Robber Hotzenplotz, Zwackelmann the sorcerer and other magical play pals

Robber Hotzenplotz, Zwackelmann the sorcerer and other magical play pals

"I'm sure my father would have considered it an honour and would have been very pleased," said Dr. Susanne Preußler-Bitsch, the youngest daughter of best-selling children's books author Otfried Preußler, during the opening ceremony for an unusual themed playground in the new residential area 'Untere Wiesen' in the market town of Ergolding in Bavaria. Next to the Otfried-Preußler-Ring, the main thoroughfare of the district, the local authority, working in collaboration with Ernst Maier Spielplatzgeräte GmbH play equipment constructors, has put in place a suitably themed playground that is home to a wealth of hand-carved figures derived from the works of Preußler.

The figure of the wicked wizard Petrosilius Zwackelmann has a prominent position on the new playground, from where he can observe with sour expression the goings-on of the children as they romp about on the large three tower amenity with its skewed support posts and other features. In the lower level of the construction, the children will encounter further figures from the stories, such as to one side the toad into which Zwackelmann once transformed the unfortunate fairy Amaryllis in Preußler's 'The Robber Hotzenplotz'. On the other side of the construction, the children will find themselves transported into another of the stories of Preußler. In his cell waits Little Ghost, still clad in white, while he is also present in black in the company of his friend Mr Twoohoo the owl on top of a post of the tower construction, a specially adapted version modified by Ernst Maier Spielplatzgeräte GmbH from its 'Fiasko' series.

Further themed play equipment is also located around the play tower. There is a play wall with cut-outs for faces that allows users to slip into the roles of Hotzenplotz, Kasperl and Seppel. The talking raven Abraxas - also a hand-carved figure - perches on an intercom system and guards the house of the Little Witch. On the other side of the generously proportioned playground the theme is continued in the form of two swings - one with a gigantic magic wand providing the cross-beam - the chest of 'gold' in which Hotzenplotz found only sand and a see-saw in the form of a witch's broomstick. Centrally positioned is a bench labelled 'Oma' - granny - from which accompanying grannies can keep an eye on what their little charges are up to. The bench is a reminder of an incident in the 'Robber Hotzenplotz' story, in which Kasperl's grandmother is kidnapped - hence she is not herself present.

"When designing the playground, we took particularly care to ensure that it would be attractive to children of various age groups," explains Roland Koenig, Head of Product Development at Ernst Maier Spielplatzgeräte GmbH. The lower section of the tower construction has been made particularly suitable for younger children while the climbing and platform elements of the combined structure are intended to promote the development of motor skills and imaginative forms of exercise in older children. The fairytale character of the playground with its many figures and hideaways also encourages users to engage in creative role play with each other, thus stimulating their cognitive and social skills.

Andreas Strauß, the mayor of Ergolding, expressed especially satisfaction with the result during the inauguration ceremony in spring. In his speech, he thanked the planning committee for its support for the construction of the playground with its faithfully reproduced story figures and also Dr. Susanne Preußler-Bitsch for giving her consent to the project. Preußler-Bitsch, the author's youngest daughter and the custodian of his literary legacy, had been invited to attend and celebrated the opening of the playground together with children from a childcare group, councillors, other local representatives and local residents. "I'm sure my father would have considered it an honour and would have been very pleased by the lovingly crafted figures," asserted Dr. Susanne Preußler-Bitsch. Throughout his life, her father had championed the rights of children and their entitlement to have the opportunity to develop their abilities. There was no place that better conformed to the requirements for this than the playground.



Image: Ernst Maier Spielplatzgeräte GmbH


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