June 16--Summer begins Saturday, but we've been living it up August-style since the mercury eked above 50.
Now that the region's jam-packed schedule of free family events has kicked in, we're about to really party down.
Here are some personal faves.
-- Kenmore Children's Concert Series. Cap off your Tuesday nights with free live music on the lawn at Kenmore Middle School, 155 Delaware Road in Kenmore, starting at 6:15 p.m. Latin jazz band Sol y Sombra kicks off the fun Tuesday, and the Billy Baroo Band closes out the series Aug. 12. Youngin's can dance with carefree abandon. Self-conscious tweens can hunch over their iPhones pretending not to be related to their parents.
-- Live at Larkin. Every Wednesday at 5 p.m., you can find cool moms and dads at 745 Seneca St. in Larkin Square, jamming out to live, local music for free. I'll be there with my family, too, even though I just outed myself as uncool by using the term "jamming out." Concerts run through Sept. 17.
Note: To protect your little ones' (and your own) hearing, pick up a pack of ear plugs [a 20-pack costs about $8]. For infants and toddlers, earmuff-style hearing protection works best. We got the highly-rated Baby Banz for our kids for about $20 apiece on Amazon. A worthy investment.
-- Chalkfest. This event, happening from noon to 6 p.m.Aug. 2-3 on the 500 block of Main Street, is one of our favorites. You can just show up and draw on the sidewalk for fun or you can register ahead of time at ChalkfestBuffalo.com to reserve your own square of drawing space, which will make you eligible to win prizes for your work. Either way, it's free and chalk is provided.
This year's theme is Dr. Seuss. There will be live music, food, breakdancing, story time, arts and crafts and free balloon art. But my favorite part is watching over the shoulders of local artists as they create their own chalky masterpieces.
-- Everyday fun at Canalside. There is always something going on at Canalside. Try the themed crafts and educational activities (Explore & More Children's Museum's Family Fun Fridays, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.July 11 through Aug. 22). Or sample the youth cooking demonstrations and fitness challenges (What's Cookin'? Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.).
But even between special events, Canalside offers free use of table and lawn games such as ping pong, billiards, foosball, bean bag toss, ladder ball, jarts, a giant Connect Four game and more from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.
It's also an awesome place to bring a picnic, play in the sand, watch the sunset or get ice cream. Use the address 44 Prime St. for GPS navigation. For a full calendar of events, visit CanalsideBuffalo.com and choose "things to do" from the menu.
-- Artpark Free Family Saturdays. Enjoy live performances by the Niagara University Repertory Theatre and the Greater Niagara Ballet Co. as well as hands-on art workshops, crafts and activities. The magic happens Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m.July 5 through Aug. 2 at Artpark, 450 South Fourth St. in Lewiston. Parking is free, too.
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