Kid-Friendliness of Super Bowl XLVI Activities in Indianapolis: Fan Experience

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Indianapolis Colts TE Justin Snow gives instruction to kids on Jan. 27 during Play 60 at the NFL Experience.
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Indianapolis Colts TE Justin Snow gives instruction to kids on Jan. 27 during Play 60 at the NFL Exp …

Football fans like me who double as parents and who are thinking about bringing their children to the Super Bowl XLVI activities in Indianapolis can rest assured. There are a ton of kid-friendly activities in and around the city, and the general atmosphere is quite conducive to family members of all ages.

I ventured alone into downtown Indianapolis on Jan. 27 for the opening of the Super Bowl festivities, in part to scope out the appropriateness of the atmosphere for my two kids. I was impressed by the family-friendliness of the day.

NFL Experience

I spent my first few hours in the NFL Experience at the Indiana Convention Center. Adults are $25 a head to get in, kids aged 2 to 12 are $20 a piece, and children under the age of 2 are free. In addition to the multitude of displays that will be of interest to adults, there are also a whole slew of activities for the kids, and parents were definitely taken advantage of those opportunities. Kids of all ages were everywhere inside the NFL Experience. Strollers were quite common, too, and the exhibits are set up so that strollers are easily maneuverable throughout.

The NFL Experience advertises 32 games for kids and adults to participate in. Participating in those 32 games, children can practice their long snap and their punting, passing, and kicking skills, among many other football activities, and they can run skills tests that professional football players do frequently. There is even a separate section--the NFL Rush Zone--that is for younger kids.

Kids can also participate in the NFL's Play 60 program, learning some basic football skills and then participating in a football game with NFL players on the very same type of turf that lines Lucas Oil Stadium. While I was there, Indianapolis Colts tight end Justin Snow and linebacker Ernie Sims were on the field with the kids, throwing them passes, high-fiving them, and making their faces light up like Christmas trees.

There are frequent autograph sessions that are free to attendees. The little ones can walk right up to an NFL player and have him sign their favorite piece of memorabilia. While I was there, Colts defensive back Antoine Bethea and running back Joseph Addai were signing autographs, and some of the Colts cheerleaders were scheduled to make an appearance, too.

There is a display of molds of NFL players' hands and feet, so kids can place their hands on the imprint of former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly and others and experience just how large these professional athletes are.

Outdoors in Downtown Indianapolis

Outside, the Super Cars were a big hit among kids. Thirty-three IndyCar race cars, painted to represent each of the 32 NFL teams plus Super Bowl XLVI, currently sit on the south side of Monument Circle in the shadows of the giant Roman numerals at the base of the Sailors' and Soliders' Monument. Duplicates of the Super Bowl XLVI car, the New England Patriots car, and the New York Giants car sit just outside of the NFL Experience on Capitol Avenue, underneath the zip lines. Kids loved looking at the cars and having their pictures taken next to their favorite team's car.

Those Super Cars will be dispersed throughout the city after Jan. 29, and from Feb. 2-5, fans can find them at a variety of locations around central Indiana.

The Super Bowl Village turns decidedly adult-oriented after dark. As a parent, I would not be comfortable taking my children there once the live bands start providing the evening entertainment, the alcohol starts flowing, and personal space comes at a premium. Fans were very well-behaved when I was there, so that's not an issue. There are just too many people milling around and too many adults celebrating to make it an ideal spot for kids, especially young kids. And frankly, children would probably be bored.

Elsewhere in the Metropolitan Area

There are other kid-friendly Super Bowl activities around the city, too. The Children's Museum of Indianapolis--the world's largest children's museum--has a week's worth of Super Bowl activities scheduled, and trust me: if you have your children here in Indianapolis, you definitely want to make a point of spending some quality time at the Children's Museum. I've been there a number of times with my kids, and they always love it. New to the museum this week is a Mr. Potato Head exhibit that is sure to entertain kids of all ages.

Check out suburban Indianapolis, too, for kid-friendly activities. Hendricks County (my home county), for example, hosts a Super Celebration at Metropolis Shopping Center in Plainfield, just a tick to the west of the Indianapolis Airport. They will be hosting a video game tournament from Jan. 30 through Feb. 2 and handing out free passes to the NFL Experience to each day's high scorers. They will also be the site for the Baltimore Ravens Super Car from Feb. 2-5 and will provide a free shuttle to downtown Indianapolis on Feb. 3 and 4.

Many other suburban communities have similar activities planned.

A great source of other kid-friendly Super Bowl XLVI activities can be found on IndianapolisWithKids.com. This site, which specializes in finding fun and educational activities for children around the Indianapolis metropolitan area, has a great list of Super Bowl activities for families.

And for all the latest goings-on surrounding Super Bowl XLVI from the Host Committee, frequently check IndianapolisSuperBowl.com.

The author is a resident of central Indiana and a Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @RedZoneWriting and on Facebook.

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