Tag Archives: Girl Scouts

You are my sunshine

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I’ve got a long way to go in the speaking Spanish department. One of the few words I know is “sol” — which means “sun,” something I likely learned from all those years watching the “Parada del Sol Parade” make its way through Scottsdale.

I enjoyed Saturday’s parade sitting on a curb next to three young girls rocking a bohemian vibe with multicolor sundresses, silk scarves donned like capes, cowboy boots and adorable hats. Also a couple who’d arrived by bike.

The gentleman got a hoot out of watching one of the high school marching bands go by. Seems he and about two dozen seniors spent five hours on a little high school prank at their school, which made the local papers a few decades ago. Best I not repeat it here for fear the next generation will feel inspired to continue his legacy.

I also ran into dogs sporting tiny little cowboy hats about the size of a teacup. One, dressed in a furry little leopard version, probably gave a shout out as the animal rescue organizations marched by — but to no avail.

Several high school marching bands — complete with brass, drums and all sorts of fanfare — strutted their stuff. Some were accompanied by cheerleaders, both male and female. And a large group of Arizona Twirling Athletes made their mark with a sparkling red, white and blue float.

Mojave Middle School students deserve high praise for cheerfully cleaning up after all those high-stepping horses. At one point I overheard a man suggest he’d vote for any politician willing to do the same.

Lots of scouting groups took part in the parade, and red wagons passed by every so often attached to folks selling Girl Scout cookies. I forget, do any of their cookies have the word “sunshine” in their name?

No matter, I suppose. Because the real stars of the parade were those representing veterans. Onlookers clapped with genuine enthusiasm as people representing our MIA/POW citizens, and various wars or branches of the military, went by. Law enforement was well received as well.

Several giant balloons added a larger than life feel to the event, one of many dubbed an official part of Arizona’s centennial celebration. Think giant Saguaro cactus, coyote and more. Plus a silvery snake head on wheels.

Plenty of old cars, trucks and souped up (or down) vehicles made their way down Scottsdale Rd. too — reminding me of parades I attended many decades ago in the tiny South Dakota town where my father grew up. My favorite, of course, was a fire truck from the Hall of Flame museum in Phoenix.

To all the children and youth who smiled and waved while marching down a long parade route in the Arizona sun — you did an amazing job. No doubt friends and family looked on with pride, thinking all the while: You are my sunshine.

– Lynn

Note: You’ve still got plenty of time to enjoy a myriad of events celebrating Arizona’s 100th birthday — click here for ideas. And click here to learn about upcoming events from the Parada del Sol organization.

Coming up: Festivals celebrating native cultures, High school musicals

Free museum days!

Every year since 1977 museums around the globe have celebrated “International Museum Day” with free admission, special offers or admission discounts. More than 30,000 museums in more than 100 countries organize “International Museum Day” activities, according to the Central Arizona Museum Association (also known as CAMA).

CAMA describes itself as “a regional consortium of museums dedicated to fostering professional development and promoting museums in Gila, Maricopa, Pinal, and Yavapai Counties.” The CAMA website lists more than 50 museums, and lets you search museums by name, location or type.

“International Museum Day” is designed to raise awareness about the vital role museums play in their communities. As summer months with soaring temperatures loom, they’re especially important for Valley families who seek cool places to enjoy educational and entertaining experiences together.

If you’re only visiting museums when traveling other places for business or pleasure, you’re missing some of the world’s great museums right here in your own backyard — like the Musical Instrument Museum and Heard Museum, both in Phoenix. For children, we’ve got the Children’s Museum of Phoenix and the Arizona Museum for Youth.

Celebrate at the MIM with reduced ticket prices -- plus free performances and demonstrations -- May 19 from 5pm to 9pm (Photo: Lynn Trimble)

Here’s a sampling of Valley museums offering special pricing for “International Museum Day” this year (with thanks to the fine folks at CAMA for putting this list together)…

Arizona Historical Society Museum at Papago Park in Tempe offers free admission Wed, May 18 from 10am-4pm.

Arizona Military Museum in Phoenix offers free admission Wed, May 18 from 1-4pm.

Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa offers one free admission with the purchase of another (free admission must be equal to or less than the price of the purchased ticket) Wed, May 18 from 1-4pm.

Barbara Anderson Girl Scout Museum in Phoenix offers free admission Wed, May 18 from 9am-4pm.

Deer Valley Rock Art Center in Phoenix offers two-for-one admission Wed, May 18 from 8am-2pm.

Heard Museum in Phoenix and North Scottsdale offers two-for-one admission (for up to four people) Wed, May 18 from 9:30am-5pm.

Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix offers $5 off admission and “a range of free performances and demonstrations” Thurs, May 19 from 5-9pm.

Pueblo Grande Museum and Archeological Park in Phoenix offers free admission Wed, May 18 from 9am-4:45pm.

River of Time Museum in Fountain Hills offers free admission Wed, May 18 from 1-4pm.

Scottsdale Historical Museum in Scottsdale offers free admission Wed, May 18 from 10am-5pm.

Shemer Art Center and Museum offers free admission Wed, May 18 from 10am-3pm.

Call ahead if you plan to tour with a large group, and remember that most offers cannot be combined with other discounts or coupons. In some cases, museum gift shops are offering discounts.

Make museum visits more enjoyable by taking children when they’re well rested, letting children help decide which museums to visit and taking along items children can use to make museum visits more fun (a camera, if allowed — or paper and colored pencils for drawing what they see).

Keep visits shorter for younger children, leaving before they get too frazzled even if it means you’re unable to see everything a particular museum has to offer during a single trip. Consider buying memberships at favorite museums — which make shorter, more frequent trips economical and offer other benefits like gift shop savings.

Look for museums with hands-on activities that engage children’s bodies and minds. Choose museums for playdates, and add a picnic lunch or park time into the mix. Think museums for family get-togethers so nobody has to clean house and the turf feels neutral.

And when you need some time away from the kiddos, consider a stroll through your local museum. Museums are perfect for enjoying quiet time and peaceful reflection. Just promise me you won’t hole up there for the night…

– Lynn

Note: Always call ahead to confirm museum location/directions, days/hours of operation and ticketing information. And remember that museum exhibits are noted in both the print and online editions of the Raising Arizona Kids Magazine calendar.

Coming up: A sweet theater find

Update: The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is also offering free admission and special activities on Wed, May 18 for International Museum Day. And the Phoenix Art Museum has announced that their members receive free admission to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix and the Arizona Science Center, also in central/downtown Phoenix, May 18-22 (just show your membership card).

Saturdays & serendipity

My plans for Saturday included attending Phoenix Theatre’s matinee performance of “Hairspray,” a musical that promotes equality on and beyond the dance floor.

I got downtown two hours early to drop Lizabeth off for a QSpeak gathering and decided to poke around what I’m coming to consider the most valuable piece of real estate in the Valley — the museum and theater complex at the corner of McDowell Rd. and 3rd St.

I haven’t any idea of its actual worth in dollars. But I do know that I’ve never set foot on the grounds without enjoying one or more valuable experiences with interesting people and engaging art.

Thankfully, I’d left time for spontaneity — and the serendipity that so often accompanies it.

While strolling amidst the newly planted flowers and bronze statues along the walkway from Phoenix Theatre to the Phoenix Art Museum, I saw a sign with an arrow pointing the way to “PhxArtKids,” a hands-on art activity for children ages 5-12.

I headed over to check it out — and the first person I met was ASU business major Isaac Willard, who was helping kids settle into a drawing activity. The room was lined with lifesize self-portraits by children made on brown paper bag type material — and the walls above were covered with pictures created by local school children who’d attended the museum’s “Cowboy Artists of America” exhibition.

Willard shared with me that he’s required to perform 25 hours of community service as part of a class in “responsible management.” I learned a great deal from our conversation and plan to share more of his insights in a future post.

I meandered into another room where two other ASU students and several art museum folks were supervising more than a dozen kids busy making treasure boxes and cigar box purses using lovely boxes someone was kind enough to donate for the occasion.

It made me wish I had Lizabeth and Jennifer along, because I remember how they loved these hands-on Phoenix Art Museum activities when they were in elementary school.

I was struck by the wealth of colorful art supplies in a myriad of textures, sizes and such — rolls and rolls of ribbon from seafoam green to bright magenta, fabric from tulle to felt, and all sorts of buttons and shapes for gluing onto these handsome boxes.

But more than that, I was struck by the tenor of the room. Parents and kids sat side by side, enjoying one another’s company. And though there were no screens, big or small, in sight — nobody looked bored. These kids were patient, creative, attentive, kind to others — all the things parents and teachers wish for.

And all they needed was a little down time, a quiet space with lots of open-ended art materials and the freedom to work at their own pace. No one who saw these children would even consider reducing arts funding for our schools.

This was a place of happiness, of hard work, of hope.

My next stop was the Phoenix Art Museum gift shop, where I shared with one of the employees that a recent birthday gift purchased there had been a big hit with the 18-year-old who now sports it (the gift was a scarf that looks like yellow crime scene tape).

I can’t say that I’ll ever be in a position to make a large financial contribution to the museum, but I am a longtime member and like to get a little something from the gift shop each time I go just to support the cause.

Saturday it was a “Walls” notebook with photos of assorted walls rather than blank pages. It never hurts to inject a bit of whimsy into the writing process.

I also took notes for an upcoming post on holiday gift ideas because I find that museum gift shops have the most unique offerings for the most diverse audience, often with something wonderful in every price range.

While walking back over to Phoenix Theatre, I ran into a fellow stage mom whose daughter also attends Arizona School for the Arts. Her daughter told me about an art event being organized by a student at Metropolitan Arts Institute, and I learned that the ASA glee/show choir will be performing Dec 1 at an event to mark 2010 World AIDS Day.

Soon I wandered towards Phoenix Theatre, where the head of ASA’s glee/show choir is performing the role of Corny Collins, and one of Childsplay’s many incredible actors is performing the role of Edna Turnblad.

I’ll be posting a review in the next day or two, but for now I’m happy to share that “Hairspray” easily makes my list of all time musical theater favorites from Arizona theater companies.

Simply put, you can’t stop the beat.

The final highlight of my day was talking with the many Girl Scouts who attended the performance with troop leaders, parents and grandparents. What a bright, energetic, smart group of young ladies. And yes, the young man with them was equally energetic and inspiring to be around.

I especially enjoyed chatting with a young lady who sings with the Phoenix Girls Chorus. She listened patiently as I recounted my days of chaperoning chorus camp when my daughter Jennifer was a choir member, and asked if I remembered the infamous “rice pudding” skit from talent night.

My Saturday of seredipity brought back cherished memories and reminded me again of the many riches the arts have brought to my own life and to the community.

I hope to enjoy many more of them — and encourage you to get out there and enjoy more spontaneous moments with your own family and friends.

– Lynn

Note: “Hairspray” is fun for all ages, and runs through Dec 12 at Phoenix Theatre. Click here to learn more.

Coming up: Big is beautiful; The “Grinch” sleighs into Tempe for “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” at ASU Gammage, Pondering 400 posts

A modern day campfire?

I felt like a tiny twig used to kindle a much greater fire when I spoke recently with Kim Peter Novak, Director of Theater for Young Audiences with The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

“What’s a humble blogger got to contribute in a world full of experts,” I wondered. Then I remembered gathering around the campire as a young Girl Scout, recalling the way we’d all head out to gather small bits of wood that would forge a fantastic flame once we threw them all together.

Kovac considers theater for young audiences a modern day campfire of sorts. It’s a place we gather to share our stories.

I like the campfire analogy, because sitting around a campfire with friends or family feels warm and welcoming. I hope it speaks to parents who hesitate to take their children to see live theater performance fearing it will be boring or stuffy.

Children aren’t exposed to theater or other live performance art unless they’re taken to see it by a “gatekeeper” of sorts–the parent, youth organization, school or other entity that finds the opportunities and purchases the tickets.

Sometimes parents are reticent because they fear theater produced or presented specifically for youth will be just plain awful. Kovac admits to seeing quite a few poor quality productions during his own young years.

But, he adds, the tide is turning on this one. More and more venues are offering theater for young audiences (which is different than “youth theater” presented by young performers). And more of them are upping the quality quotient.

Kovac reflects that during the past 10 to 15 years, those who put on performances for youth have realized that “the focus should be on quality.”

Cultural views of children have changed in this country, he says. Children are increasingly seen as “real” rather than “second hand” audiences.

That’s a plus for all of us, given that parents, teachers and caretakers are more inclined to take children to activities they enjoy as well.

What the Kennedy Center is really trying to do through their 2010-2011 performances for young audiences season–which includes everything from circus performance and adaptations of children’s literature to original works and jazz coupled with puppetry–is “really good work so a young person will understand and appreciate it.”

The Kennedy Center has an education department designed “to foster understanding of and participation in the arts through exemplary programs and performances for diverse populations of all ages that represent the unique cultural life and heritage of the United States.”

I’m particularly intrigued by their lineup for the 18th year of their “Theater for Young Audiences on Tour Program”–which includes two works commissioned by The Kennedy Center.

“Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical” will tour Oct 2010 to May 2011 with “a story about family, best friends, baby steps, and memories that last a lifetime.”

“Barrio Grrrl!,” which caught my eye after seeing “In the Heights” peformed recently at ASU Gammage in Tempe, will tour Jan to April 2011. It’s about a spunky girl and the imaginary friend who live with her “abuelo” (grandfather) while mom is serving as a soldier in Iraq.

While messages abound, Kovac notes that it’s the storytelling that counts.

A good story can share many a life lesson, but the message should never trump the tale.

What we’re really doing when we present or partake of live theater for youth, says Kovac, is what all civilizations did at the beginning.

We’re sitting around the campfire telling our stories.

Marshmallow, anyone?

–Lynn

Note: Watch for a future post sharing Kovak’s tips on creating quality theater for young audiences as well as his observations about trends he expects to see during the next decade or so.

Coming up: Lynn and Liz explore Cedar City, a fabulous destination for all sorts of festivals and fun.

Don’t push my buttons!

Pushing buttons…

It’s a common occurrence when the “teen taxi” is in service.

Sometimes it’s the emotional kind, but usually it’s just the radio that’s in play. I push the ‘70s button, Christopher pushes the ‘80s button, Jennifer pushes the country/western button and Lizabeth pushes the Broadway button.

'50s crooner Eddie Fisher

We get a ‘50s station thanks to Sirius XM, but it’s never had its own button. James and I are at the back of the “Boomers,” born in the ‘60s after the heyday of soda jerks and juke boxes.

So it surprised me when I actually got chills listening to the cast of Greasepaint Youtheatre’s The Sound of Plaid” perform the show’s final number, “Love is a Many Splendored Thing.”

The show—an Arizona premiere of “The Sound of Plaid: The New Glee Club Version of Forever Plaid”—features mostly music popularized in the ‘50s. Think “Lady of Spain” and “Three Coins in the Fountain.”

I attended the Saturday matinee at Greasepaint Youtheatre (formerly Stagebrush Theatre) in Scottsdale, which was also enjoyed by youth from a variety of non-profit organizations—including Free Arts of Arizona, Chrysalis and Girl Scouts.

Collaboration is a many splendored thing, and Phoenix Theatre does it so well.

I never met a mic I didn't like

I’m also rather partial to their take on all things plaid. If ever there was a show with the potential to be a monotonous “one note”—this has to be it. I’m more of a spandex and disco ball kind of a gal, so I really didn’t expect to find this show all that enchanting.

Contemporary crooner Michael Buble

But they had me with the very first notes out of the tuxedo-clad quartet that opened the show (all looking a bit like Michael Buble brandishing braces)—which follows the performance of a high school glee club who’ve come back to earth after perishing in a 1964 crash with another school bus.

Students on the other fictional bus, en route to watch the Beatles’ debut on the Ed Sullivan show, survived—but that’s the last we hear of them. They haven’t got the power of the plaid.

I loved the show’s many references to all things nostalgic. The club sang a round rather than a rap. They pined over LPs instead of iPods. They used words more common many decades ago—uranium, Korea, harmonic convergence—even “Holy cannoli!”

Ed Sullivan & the "Fab Four"

The show featured especially strong vocals, with plenty of stunning solos and heartfelt harmonies. I’d have to give the best overall performance award to Ryan Kitkowski, an Arcadia High School sophomore who plays Jinx with true comedic flair.

I was also impressed by the balance of various creative elements—the live music (piano, bass and drums), the simple but sophisticated scenic design, the polished costumes and the playful props.

The youngest trio of cast members—including 2nd grader Alex Kirby (Gladys), 3rd grader Sam Primack (Lionel) and 4th grader Madeline Bates (Irene)–were both capable and cute. Madeline is the youngest of three Bates siblings in the show, and the cast member I’d pick for “most likely to make it big as a dancer” one day.

The Andrew Sisters

As always, the Greasepaint Theatre lobby was transformed into a world reflecting the cultural context of the show. Patrons enjoyed clips of songs like “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by the Andrew Sisters on a tiny black and white television. And yup, they even managed to dig up an old record player.

Exhibits featured photos and descriptions of cultural icons like American Bandstand—and true American idols like Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Big Mama Thornton and Bing Crosby. A mock recording studio with stand-up mic and “On the Air” sign made a great setting for snapping souvenir photos.

“The Sound of Plaid” makes for a refreshing afternoon or evening of theater for all ages (recommended for 5 & up). If you want to treat the grandparents in your life to some quality time with the grandkids, get them tickets to see this show.

Dick Clark

Or if you want your child to see the polished, but not plastic, performance of a real live “glee club”—this is the show for you. Long before 3-D televisions invade our family rooms and kitchens, we’ll have plenty of live performance art to transport young imaginations to new dimensions.

But don’t get me started. The tragedy of television time taking over theater time is one of my hot buttons…

–Lynn

Patsy Cline

Note: If, like my daughter Jennifer, the radio button you’re most fond of pushing is for country/western tunes, don’t miss the presentation of “Always…Patsy Cline” coming to Phoenix Theatre on May 19. It’s a touching glimpse into the world of singer Patsy Cline, whose life was cut tragically short by a plane crash in 1963 when she was just 30 years old.

Coming up: Spotlight on summer theater camps, including those offered by Phoenix Theatre, Childsplay, Valley Youth Theatre and more. If your child has had a positive experience with a Valley theater camp (or you’ve seen another youth theater production you’d like to recommend), feel free to comment below to let our readers know.