Monday, August 25, 2008

We are a Costco Nation

(Or for the Belgians reading this: We are a Makro Nation).

Last weekend, we celebrated my daughter's birthday in a nearby park. The public parks in California are wonderful. There are many parks, most of them are free and have new and safe play structures. John D. Morgan park in Campbell is a large park, with 3 soccer fields, 2 soft ball fields, two areas with play structures and lots of open space. One area includes a water play structure with fountains. Kids just love it. Since last year's birthday party was a success, we were planning for an encore.

The picnic benches around the water play structure are first come first serve. I had packed our station wagon the day before and woke up early to grab a space. Just like I did the year before. At 7:30am, I arrived at the park, only to find that all 13 spaces had been taken already. Ready for plan B: grab a bench and bring a fold up table or two to create an improvised birthday setup. As long as we are close to the water and sand, kids wouldn't mind. Another poor soul had arrived too late as well and was opting for a similar plan B. He had been there already since 6:10am. Either we were dealing with a bunch of owls or the others had cheated and claimed the spots the night before. Oh-well, the last thing you want to do is fight over a table in front of sugar happy kids.

I quickly set up shop on two borrowed tables and then waited for the rest of the family to arrive. It was very interesting to observe the larger parties set up camp. Literally. One family showed up with a large pickup and a mini van packed with stuff. First, the barbie hummer was unloaded to keep little Jasmine occupied. The first big canopy was setup for shade. Four large tables and matching chairs were unfolded. Another big canopy provided for even more shade. Next up: a 4-6 person tent. Three bags of coals - they must be planning a large barbecue. Honey, did you bring the extra barbecue? And to top it off, an inflatable basketball ring was set up. Luckily they brought a little four wheel cart, so it was easy to roll the ten bags of ice from the car to the coolers. The next hours they spent setting up the tables, hanging the balloons, preparing the food.

It's all the fault of Costco! Costco is the largest membership warehouse club chain in the world based on sales volume. At Costco you can buy cereal in 5kg boxes or olive oil in 5 liter jars. Cordless phones come in packages of 6, with an extra water proof one for the pool. All these party, backyard and pool supplies can be found at Costco at rather cheap prices and come in convenient fold up packaging. Outdoor pools are not 2mx2m: they are 4m x 6m with a built-in slide and obstacle course. It is just too much.

At the end of evening, we all had a great time. The food was great, the Thinkerbell cake a hit. The kids had a great time in the water, building castles in the sand and at the arts and craft table. And so did the other family I noticed. Luckily I didn't have to stay to see them clean up and pack it all up. Unless they were staying for a couple of days ... they sure had the equipment to do so.

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