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hen it comes to choosing a family activity, it’s sometimes hard to incorporate everyone’s wants and interests. Luckily, we’ve picked some great choices on both sides of the fence. Head to Parchment for a festival with a designated children’s area full of things to do or swing into Saugatuck for an art class for the creative types who like

to bring something home to mom and dad. Thinking local stuff is more your speed? There’s an event that takes you to three Grand Rapids establishments where kids rule, and there’s even a hometown parade to consider. In a city nearby or right in your own backyard, there’s a lot of summer love, and when it’s finally time to come home, parents will remember that special saying (and absolute fact) — “they’ll sleep well tonight.”

Pollock for Kids at Saugatuck Center for the Arts

by Missy Black |

FOURTH OF JULY PARADE Corner of Lyon and Ottawa NW, Grand Rapids July 4, 5 p.m, FREE!

If you ask kids, a good time is guaranteed by the presence of a parade. This July 4 is red, white and blue cool and the celebration kicks off with a new parade that travels to Veterans’ Memorial Park. Ed Kettle, executive director of the Fourth of July Family Fireworks, encourages families to march in the parade and “express themselves in patriotic clothing, costumes — any family expression of patriotism.” Follow all that pomp and circumstance with live music and children’s activities at Ah Nab Awen Park. At 6 p.m., the live performances will boast two headliners — a popular artist at Rosa Parks Circle and a country-western performance at Ah Nab Awen Park. Stay around for the fireworks spectacular beginning at approximately 10:30 p.m. All activities are free to the public — and with gas prices so high and so much packed into this one afternoon, you can teach the kids a new word: staycation.


CHILDREN’S AREA Kindleberger Park, 650 S. Riverview Dr., Parchment

July 9, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. FREE!

(kids under 12);

The Kindleberger Summer Festival of the Performing Arts provides fun for the whole family — even the youngest members. The festival’s chil- dren’s area offers a wide variety of hands-on activities including bouncing fun, pony rides and a visit from the Kalamazoo Air Zoo. The Air Zoo brings

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a “mini plane the kids can get in that shakes — a highlight for the little ones,” says Kids Area Chairperson Tracy Ican. Look for a caricaturist, a balloon artist and clown, and Alan Kazam, the magician and juggler. Things stay busy with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra Instrument Petting Zoo, kids’ crafts, game section, finger-painting and face-painting, and games and prizes. Now that’s a whole lot of activity for free.

POLLOCK FOR KIDS Saugatuck Center for the Arts, 400 Culver St., Saugatuck July 12, 10 a.m.-noon $20;, (269) 857-2399

Dress code: grubby attire. Atmosphere: Free- for-all. A splash of art at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts is on the agenda at the Pollock for Kids event. Artist, art lover and art connoisseur Ellen Sprouls hosts this class that introduces children to artist Jackson Pollock. Students aged five and up demonstrate “abstract expressionism” and “action paintings” in this creative and careless endeavor. “Kids get the opportu- nity to get completely messy by throwing paint. We literally hose them off outside,” says Program Director Krista Reuter of the Saugatuck Center for the Arts. With plastic on the floor and the walls covered, little ones splatter and swirl colors to create masterpieces on canvas which they are able to take home with them. Parental feedback for this event is glowing.

FARMYARD EXPRESS Downtown Grand Rapids July 21, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. $14/nonmembers, $11/museum or zoo members, (616) 336-4374

Grand Rapids Children’s Museum

This is one play date that is on the move. Farmyard fun is brought to you by three Grand Rapids establishments, and all are brought by trolley. Guests are encouraged to start at the zoo (free parking alert), and there will be three trolleys that will run about every 15 minutes. Find Aunt Daisy’s Farm at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum and participate in a special farmyard interactive music and movement workshop incorporating animals in skits that get kids up and moving with children’s author, illustrator, performer and musician Kevin Kammeraad of The Tomato Collection fame. According to museum Marketing Manager Megan Myers, kids love the farm because “it’s so realistic and gives the urban community a chance to experience what a farm is like. It changes seasonally and kids love playing in life size structures.” The John Ball Zoo celebrates the opening of

Red’s Hobby Farm, its revamped petting zoo with newer animals. A salon experience with

“pig tails” and “rooster hair” is just another way to get into the wild spirit of things at the Douglas J Salon, but the trolley ride is always a big deal. “Music is playing and it’s just long enough a ride that kids can enjoy it.” n


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