By Carissa Collins
Gordon College News Service
February 26, 2014
(This story appeared in the Beverly Citizen, and March 12, 2104 in the print/online editions of the Salem News.)
BEVERLY, MA— Last fall, Charae D’Ambra had a Eureka moment as she drove past the property at 81 Bridge Street. Ever since trading her career in pediatrics for the full time job of parenting, D’Ambra had searched for a place where children could play in safety and warmth all year round. Her search came up empty—that is, until D’Ambra drove down Bridge Street and realized she could build it herself.
“There was nowhere to go that was warm, safe and enjoyable for parents (to take their kids),” D’Ambra said. So when D’Ambra had the idea for an indoor playground and cafe, her husband encouraged her to, “Go for it, honey!”
Today, D’Ambra’s dream—The Children’s Piazza—sits near the corner of Elliot and Bridge Street and celebrated its grand opening February 7th. The timing was perfect for parents of toddlers and infants as Massachusetts experiences one of its heaviest winters.
The indoor play area offers two large cedar playscapes inside the soft, sage-painted space. Moms and dads can relax at café tables and socialize while watching their children. Toddlers are free to run and explore the Piazza, including smaller rooms housing play kitchens, train tables and a miniature ball pit. A quieter, enclosed area lies on the far side of the Piazza, filled with soft toys and climbing spaces for infants.
“Once I stopped being a pediatrician and became a stay-at-home mom, I felt like I had free space in my head,” said D’Ambra. She wanted to continue helping children and their families on the North Shore, and the Piazza was born.