SPRINGFIELD  Pirates were spotted walking on the Spartan Trail along Springfield Lake on April 22. But it is not something that should alarm anyone.

They were small pirates. Actually, they were cute pirates with some were carrying swords, some wearing tutus and the sounds "arrrggg" and "ahoy mateys" were loudly heard coming from a pirate ship. No one seemed to be too afraid of these pint-sized buccaneers who just having a little fun.

The young pirates, their parents and grandparents came to the lake to celebrate the Springfield Park's Department dedication of the new playground and completed expansion of Spartan Trail.

Parks Director Doug Foltz spoke to those in attendance, thanking many for their help in getting the playground and the trail competed. He then gave directions for a special treasure hunt.

Children and their parents walked the Spartan Trail looking for four pieces of a treasure map. Once the kids put their map together they received their booty.

It was a pirate themed event because of the new pirate ship play area that opened last fall. A large pirate ship stands lakeside for the kids to play on. Also located at the pirate ship play area are swings and sliding boards. Included on the swing set are expression swings, which allow an adult to swing with a baby or toddler instead of pushing them. Foltz added that the expression swings have been well received by the community.

Across Canfield Road is an area for older children that includes a very popular zip line (that all ages can try out), climbing wall, arch swing and more. It is what Foltz said is an intergenerational play area.

The township received a $105,000 Nature Works grant for the playground equipment. Park employees Dan Gravila and Eric Lyall built most of the play structure and installed it along with help from road department employees. By using township employees, the township saved more than $30,000 in installation costs. 

The playground was designed to include all children, including those who are handicapped.

After searching for the treasure map puzzle pieces, putting the puzzle together and receiving a treasure, families enjoyed lunch with pizza, drinks, fruit and pretzels.

Volunteers from the Friends of the Spartan Trail dressed as pirates, helped with the map pieces and served the lunch.

The play area, the pirate ship, the senior exercise area and the Spartan Trail offering more than a mile of walking and jogging all add to a fun day of healthy play for all ages. Lakeside offers plenty of picnic tables and beginning in June, free Friday night concerts will be held at the gazebo. It's an event officials say will be one where families can bring a picnic, let the kids play, take a walk and then kick back and enjoy the music.