Free-Range Kids

Town Closes Playground Due to Mouse Sighting

This could be just the tip of the (m)iceberg.


The town of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, has shut down one of its playgrounds due to an extremely serious issue: a mouse on the property. (Eek!)

WTMJ-TV reports that the Imagination Station Playground was closed until further notice as the city dealt with this crisis. The municipality explained its vexing problem in a Facebook post.

"The environment around the Imagination Station is wooded and typically wet," wrote the city. "This environment, along with any food left on the ground can attract mice. Since its construction, this is the first time a burrow has been located in the playground."

But you know what they say: By the time you've found a single mouse on a damp outdoor playground near the woods, this could be just the tip of the (m)iceberg. There could be another mouse nearby, or perhaps an exponentially bigger problem: a squirrel.

A mouse on the playground could, of course, present a tripping hazard. It could also distract children, who might careen into heavy equipment or run screaming into traffic. If this were a mere 500 years earlier, and in Europe, it could also carry the plague. And some mice have been known to wield mallets, presenting a danger to cats.

So you can see the trap in which the city found itself.

The comments on the city's Facebook announcement were not as civic-minded as one would hope.

"Wait till they find out about birds," one citizen wrote.

"Nice to see our city resources being used appropriately," wrote another.

"I thought this would be a 'safe space' for the mouse," wrote a third.

Strangely enough, I spent some time in Oconomowoc as a kid. Even then, we were somewhat obsessed with its connection to the animal world; we explained to our fellow 8-year-olds—over and over again, loudly—that the town derived its name from the following phrase: old cow no more walk.

I never thought I'd be flashing back to my Oconomowoc days—actually, my Oconomowoc Hebrew school weekend—again. But now all beady little eyes are upon it.

A city of one tail. Godspeed.