Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Houston Family Fun for July 4th Weekend

WOW! There is so much going on this holiday weekend. Just don't overbook yourself trying to see it all. Here's a run down of fun family activities for July 4th weekend in greater Houston. Enjoy!

Friday, June 30 - August
Take your family to the production of 1776 on Galveston Island. It's been a tradition in our family to watch this video, but this year, we'll see it upclose. My father-in-law is actually acting in it. Go, Steve! This is a cool way to teach your family WHY we celebrate July 4th and this production is humorous. Matinee performances make it easier for youngsters to attend but there are also evening productions for those who enjoy a good show to cap off the evening. Tickets are $20 for students & senior citizens, and $25 for adults.

Friday, June 30 at 9:30 pm
Friday Night Fireworks happens every Friday night in June and July at the Kemah Boardwalk. It's hard for little ones to stay up that late, but if you have older kids and want something fun to do, this is great. Enjoy a nice dinner on the boardwalk and stay for the show. The same show will also happen on July 4th.

Now through Tuesday, July 4
The Children's Museum of Houston features various activities to teach kiddos all about Independence Day. Create pretend fireworks with paper, glitter & glue. Discover the science between rockets, aerodynamics and chemical reactions. And enjoy the museum's annual Butterfly Count, where you learn to identify various butterflies and create your own butterfly to take home. Starting at 9 am, kids can decorate a box as their special holiday parade float. Then, at 1 pm, children kick off the museum's July 4th parade and celebrate by marching with their floats throughout the museum.

Monday, July 3 at 7 pm.
Astros vs. Chicago Cubs
Well, it's the national pastime after all. Who can turn down baseball and a hot dog over our Independence Day weekend? Besides the game of two rivals, we loved the fireworks display after the game. Everyone just sits back in their chairs and RELAXES. The post-game traffic is a little lighter, too. This is a great way to spend a holiday night. The first 15,000 fans will receive a Minute Maid Fireworks Blinking Pins FREE. Game tickets start at $7 each.

Tuesday, July 4 starting at 10 am
Galveston celebrates July 4th, starting with a parade at 10 am at the Railroad Museum (25th and Strand). From there, the parade will wind its way through historic downtown Galveston from Strand to 21st; south on 21st to Postoffice; west on Postoffice to 24th, and finally south on 24th to Sealy. Next, a celebration will be held at the Sealy Pavilion, located across from the Rosenberg library. The celebration will include patriotic music and speeches, as well as refreshments. There will also be musical entertainment from Island etc’s show “1776”, and the Galveston Island Musicals’ production of “America the Beautiful”. Joe Huff of Galveston College, and Jim Guidry, of Guidry News Service will be hosting the event. (NOTE: My father-in-law Steve is acting in 1776 so we're really excited about this!) The fireworks will begin at 9:15 pm and will last about 25 minutes. The setting is at 37th and Seawall but the fireworks can be seen as far west as 81st and Seawall, and as far east as 14th and Seawall.

Tuesday, July 4 from noon - 11 pm
Pearland's Celebration of Freedom is an all-out family festival with craft booths and carnival rides. Admission is FREE but bring your wallet for all the food, music and rides.

Tuesday, July 4 at 1 pm
Astros vs. Chicago Cubs
If you missed the game on July 3, here's another chance. Plus, the first 10,000 fans will receive mini American Flags sponsored by Arne's Texas Size Party Store. Plus, take advantage of $1 hot dogs sponsored by Earl Campbell Sausage Company. Game tickets start at $7 each.

Tuesday, July 4, 4-10 pm
Chevy’s Freedom over Texas with Fireworks is presented by Shell at Eleanor Tinsley Park along Buffalo Bayou. This features a concert with rock ’n’ roll Grammy winners Los Lonely Boys. The Village People will prime concert-goers with such disco classics as “YMCA” and “Mach Man!” The concerts will be followed by a huge fireworks show in the nation, produced by the world-renowned fireworks artists, Pyro Spectaculars, presented by Souza. Plenty of children's activities will also be available. This is the biggest fireworks display in greater Houston. Tickets are $6 at the gate for adults: Kids 10 and under are FREE.

Tuesday, July 4 from 5-10 pm
Rosenberg’s signature July 4th event includes The Triumphs in concert, an inflatable carnival, KidZone, horseshoes and washer tournaments, food and refreshment vendors, hayrides through Seabourne Creek Park, and a great fireworks show. The Independence Day celebration will be held at the City’s Seabourne Creek Park located at 3831 Highway 36 South. Guests are asked to bring their lawn chairs, their family and all their friends, but to please leave the pets and alcoholic refreshments at home. Admission is free. General event parking will be available immediately south of the event site. Event Partner parking and handicapped parking will be available at the Rosenberg Civic & Convention Center at 3825 Highway 36 South. For general event information, contact the event coordinator, Rebecca Covell, at 832-595-3520 or go to

Tuesday, July 4 from 5-10 pm
The 21st annual Red, White and Bluefest will be held in Sugar Land at Oyster Creek and Lost Creek parks. If you stay for the fireworks, it's a long evening but a fun one. The holiday activities include:
5 - 9 p.m.: Children's Activities, Jugglers and Magicians
5:15 p.m.: Faces of America Parade
5:45 p.m.: Patriotic Pet Parade
6:30 p.m.: Two Tons of Steel (Rockabilly Music)
8:00 p.m.: Mayor David Wallace Welcoming Remarks
8:30 p.m.: Trent Willmon (Country Music)
9:30 p.m.: Fireworks Display
10:00 p.m.: Trent Willmon (Country Music) Avoid traffic by shuttling from Mercer Stadium, 16403 Lexington Blvd., to Oyster Creek Park from 4:30-11 p.m.

Tuesday, July 4 at 6 pm
Houston Symphony's Star Spangled Salute
Enjoy beautiful American tunes synchronized to the annual celebration at Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park in the museum district. Thousands flock to this event site and it remains a great family outing. Bring a large blanket to lie on the hill so your family can lean back, relaxing to the sights and sounds. Music plays until dark when the music is then accompanied by wonderful fireworks.

Tuesday, July 4 from 6-10 pm
9th Annual Red, Hot and Blue Festival and Fireworks Extravaganza
The 23-minute fireworks show, shot over The Woodlands Town Center, is the second largest in the Greater Houston region, second only to downtown Houston. The soundtrack for The Red, Hot & Blue Festival Fireworks is simulcast on Houston’s Sunny 99.1 radio station. Admission: FREE. Concessions will be sold at the event.

Tuesday, July 4 at dusk
Fireworks Spectacular at Splashtown
Cool off in the pool and catch a thrill speeding down a water slide. Kick summer into high gear. Celebrate America's Independence Day with contests and entertainment for the entire family including fireworks at Six Flags' Splashtown. Park will be open 10am-10pm. Visit for details. General Admission: $32.99; Child under 48": $24.99; Kids 2 & Under: FREE

Tuesday, July 4 at 9:30 pm.
Kemah Fireworks
Again, if you have older kids, this is a fun outing. Stroll through the shops on the Kemah Boardwalk, enjoy a tasty dinner overlooking the water and then watch the fireworks show. This is the same show seen each Friday & Saturday throughout June & July.

Have a safe & happy holiday! Until the next nap time...

Unstructured Play Needed for Kids' Development

An interesting topic was explored on NPR: we just don't give children enough time to play on their own in an unstructured climate. In an effort to give our kids the chance to do more and do better, many families are filling childrens' lives with scheduled activities. The drawback? A loss of creativity and imagination, which are critical for math and science lessons... not to mention a happy child.

My father retells stories of playing cops & robbers in the street before dark as a child. My daughter is now growing up in the same neighborhood as her grandfather did and while too young to play on her own outside, I encourage her to play freely. At the ripe age of one, I don't always understand the game at hand, but she quickly begins jabbering to let me know what's up. I giggle and try to play on, mostly watching her for tips.

Here are some startling statistics from the NPR interview:
  • The number of children suffering these (emotional, behavioral and developmental) problems is now over 20 percent of the child population.
  • Moreover, the surgeon general also suggests that some two-thirds of children in this country suffer one or another health problem.
  • 13 percent of our children are obese.
  • More than 2 million children are on Ritalin and other ADHD medications.

In a Washington Post-Gazette article, Alan Simpson, the spokesperson for the National Assocation for the Education of Young Children, said: "Part of the response [to that research] has been, 'OK, let's devote all this time in the early years to learning. but that's an oversimplification. For young children particularly, play is a crucial part of how they learn."

So before you lovingly sign your child for another camp or class, consider some unstructured, old-fashioned fun. When you're considering elementary schools for your youngster, look into how much structured learning they offer vs. unstructured play time. A good combination is healthy for our children.

Don't take my word for it. Expert David Elkind explores this topic in depth in the article "After School, Kids' Workloads Grow Heavier" at Elkind is the author of The Power of Play, which will be published by Da Capo Lifelong Books in January 2007.

Let me know your thoughts on this topic by emailing me at Until the next nap time...