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Playtime offers opportunity for some fatherly bonding

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Some of the dads attend so as to spend more time with their kids.

Several do it for the social aspect of meeting other fathers, talking politics, sport and the weather.

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Yet others turn up so their wives can take the evening off and meet up with friends to go shopping.

Whatever their reason, the fathers who sign up for Dads' Night at Rolly Pollies children's gym in Stonemill Farms agree on one thing: they --and more importantly, the kids -- love it.

Dads' Night has become an institution since its inception in spring last year and has grown so popular that Rolly Pollies owner KC Pfluger says the session's 30 places are usually full, with a waiting list of people ready to replace any last-minute drop-outs.

Pfluger, himself a father of three and a former U.S. Marine Corps trainer, is on hand to welcome the fathers and register the children at the start of the evening, and then gets busy ensuring everyone's having as much fun as they should be in the foam block pit, on the ropes, climbing frames and trampolines.

"It was actually a moms' group that came in for a play date that suggested the idea," he explained.

"They said, 'You need to have a night only for the dads, where we can all get together and go scrapbooking.'

"So I said, 'All right then.' We threw it out there, and it's gained in popularity.

"They're great fun, because the dads go out there and play with the kids and if they get tired, they stand and talk with the other dads, then go back and play a bit more with their kids."

Woodbury dad Marcelo Santos had brought his four-year-old son Marcelito along for the evening.

An engineer for an air conditioning company in White Bear Lake, Santos explained it was a good chance for him to spend some quality time with his son.

"I spend too much time at work and not enough time with him, so this is a good time for me to take off and spend some time with him," he explained.

"We always have a good time, and he has a little friend that he meets here from his pre-school, as well.

"I think it's great. We get time to step away from being home and being at work."

Politics, school and the weather

Three of the fathers who enjoyed the social aspect of the evening as well as the opportunity to spend some extra time with their kids were Brad Rongitsch and Jason Lecuyer, both from Woodbury, and Paul Voigt, who had traveled from Mendota Heights with his son John.

"It's great -- my son loves it here," said Voigt. "We come here and talk about current events and politics and the weather and school, so we have a good time...

"My son really enjoys it. It's just good, old-fashioned play - not too much structure to overwhelm the kids.

"They just have fun and learn how to play with other kids."

Rongitsch and Lecuyer's wives became friends through baby classes when both couples were expecting children, so they often spend the evening shopping together while their husbands take their kids to Dads' Night.

"We have been coming along here about six times now, so we are regular attenders at Dads' Night," said Lecuyer.

"It's great -- we have a good group of people here and it's a fantastic facility for the kids.

"Our wives get together and go out to go shopping and burn some cash while we're here."

The next Dads' Night at Rolly Pollies will be on Oct. 3, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information or to sign up, call (651) 998-0990 or visit www.rpwoodburymn.com.

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