Giveaway: 4 Tickets to “Disney Junior Live on Tour: Pirate and Princess Adventure!” in Pittsburgh

Disney Junior Live on Tour: A Pirate and Princess Adventure. Photo courtesy of Stern PR

Disney Junior Live on Tour: A Pirate and Princess Adventure. Photo courtesy of Stern PR

On August 1-2nd, Disney Live! will be coming to Pittsburgh for the first time ever for a production of their show “Disney Junior Live on Tour: Pirate and Princess Adventure!” And I have four tickets to giveaway!

In this original, interactive show, audiences can see their most beloved Disney Junior characters including Doc McStuffins, Princess Sofia of Enchancia, and Jake and his Yo Ho friends from Never Land. There will also be special guest appearances by some classic Disney favorites such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and Tinkerbell!

Although my family hasn’t seen the show yet, I did browse through some of the reviews in order to get a sense for the quality of the show. Here are some examples of what I read:

“Couldn’t have been better. Had great seats, theatrics and props were perfect. Every child in the place had a blast My son had such a great time, as did my wife and I. Definitely would see it again.”

“My 4 year old son is a big fan of Disney Jr. and especially of the show, “Jake and the Neverland Pirates.” When I saw this advertised, I knew it would be a perfect first live show for him, and I was right! He loved every minute of it!”

And:

“My 3 year old thoroughly enjoyed the show. It was very animated and bright. he loved the special effects when the bubbles came down and the volcano blew up at the end. Overall, I loved the show and I believe my son did, too!”

As you can see: Reviews=VERY POSITIVE!

*****

“Disney Junior Live on Tour: Pirate and Princess Adventure” will be showing at the Petersen Events Center in Oakland on Friday, August 1 at 7pm and Saturday, August 2 at 11am, 2pm, and 5pm. Tickets start at $35 and are available here.

I was kindly offered the chance to give away 4 tickets to the 7pm show on August 1st to one lucky family. The winner of the tickets will be able to pick them up at “Will Call” that evening. Please enter to win the giveaway below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway will run from Sunday, July 20 at 7pm to Friday, July 25 at 7pm and the winner will be announced by Sunday, July 27th. Good luck!!

What’s Going on in Pittsburgh this Weekend: July 18-20, 2014

Here’s my weekly listing of family-friendly events in the Pittsburgh region for the weekend of July 18-20, 2014. Highlights of this weekend include the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, the Cinema in the Park screening of Mary Poppins, and the Children’s Museum’s launch of “Classic Movie Night!” Quirky/Awesome event of the weekend: dancing in the streets of Downtown Pittsburgh on Sunday morning as the roads are closed to vehicular traffic during Open Streets Pittsburgh!

 

All Weekend: July 18-20

9th Annual Trail Fest

Join Pittsburgh Trails Advocacy Group as they celebrate the trails in the Allegheny County Parks with trail runs, hikes, and mountain biking. Friday’s event is in Hartwood Acres starting at 6:30, Saturday is in Boyce Park starting at 9:30am and Sunday is in North Park from 11-5pm. Donations accepted.

 

Zelionople Harmony Horse Trading Days

Celebrate the Zelionople-Harmony area’s annual Horse Trading Days with the well-known horse parade (on Friday at 7pm), live music, food, a children’s activity area, shopping, etc. Please see website for more detailed info.

 

Penn Hills Art Festival (except Sunday)

Join the community of Penn Hills as they host their annual Art Festival featuring live music, food, and art!

Times: Friday 3-9, Saturday 1-9pm

Cost: Free

Location: Penn Hills Library, Saltsburg and Stoller

 

East Brady Riverfest (except Sunday)

Join the community of East Brady as they host a weekend celebration of life on the Allegheny River with carnival rides, fireworks, music, a parade, and lots more. Please check website for more detailed info.

 

Friday Night: July 18

Sister Hazel at South Park

Allegheny County Parks Department is offering their weekly Friday night outdoor concert at South Park featuring Sister Hazel for an alternative rock performance.

Times: 7:30pm

Cost: Free

Location: South Park Amphitheater, South Park

 

Free Movie Night on the Lawn at Hamilton Church Preschool

Hamilton Church Preschool in the South Hills is offering a free outdoor movie night featuring the Lego Movie and Rita’s!

Times: 7:30pm

Cost: Free

Location: Hamilton Church Preschool, 4500 Hamilton Rd, Pittsburgh PA 15236

 

Mary Poppins in Arsenal Park

Cinema in the Park is showing Mary Poppins at Arsenal Park in Lawrenceville.

Times: Dusk

Cost: Free

Location: Arsenal Park, Lawrenceville

 

Saturday and Sunday: July 19-20

Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix: Schenley Park Race Weekend

The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix holds one of its most beloved events this weekend: the Schenley Park Race Weekend! The weekend includes an international car show, a British car show, vintage ride experiences, and vintage races. Also, there will be a Kid’s Pit stop activity tent where children can create a custom racecar out of interlocking building bricks and race it down the track, an interactive community mural that children can paint, and Radio Disney. See website for more details about the Grand Prix.

 

Blue Moon Weekend at the Carnegie Science Center

Celebrate the 45th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing at the Carnegie Science Center. Learn about current space travel, watch “Stars Over Tranquility Base” in the Buhl Planetarium to see what the stars looked like as Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Moon, watch as makeup artists transform an ordinary human into an otherworldly creature, smile for a photo with a 25-foot inflatable astronaut, befriend a Stormtrooper or a Rebel Alliance character, and create your own UFO and pose with it hovering above the city’s skyline.

Times: Saturday 10-5pm, Sunday 10-4pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: Carnegie Science Center, 1 Allegheny Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

Opening of the new Orientation Center and Museum Store at the Frick

The Frick invites families to check out the new Orientation Center and Museum Store. There will be a kid-friendly activity station next to the Frick’s Children’s Playhouse. Also, tour the Clayton Historical Mansion for free this weekend.

Times: Children’s Activities 11-3pm

Cost: Free

Location: Frick Art and Historical Center, 7227 Reynolds Street, Pittsburgh PA 15208

 

Pop’s Farmyard at Triple B’s Farm

Triple B has launched a new family-friendly program on summer weekends called Pop’s Farmyard. Highlights: a hay bale jump, visits with animals, observation beehive, a farm playground, and “Education Mile,” a hands-on learning station about farming!

Times: 11-4pm

Cost: $5

Location: Triple B Farms, 823 Berry Lane, Monongahela, PA 15063

 

Saturday: July 19

Mini Hula Kids Run

Steel City Road Runners is hosting a fun run for children grades K-6 in addition to their Hula Hula Hustle 5K on Saturday morning!

Times: Mini Hula Kids Run starts at 8:30am.

Cost: See website for special registration coupon codes

Location: Riverfront Place, 810 River Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

Celebrate the Bloom! at Jennings Environmental Education Center in Slippery Rock

The Jennings Environmental Education Center in Slippery Rock is the home of the blazing star prairie, one of the region’s most unique natural places. This Saturday they are holding their annual Celebrate the Bloom! Festival, with nature walks, entertainment, food, and children’s activities.

Times 9am-7pm

Cost: Free

Location: Jennings Environmental Education Center, 2951 Prospect Rd, Slippery Rock, 16057

 

Clean up Downtown Pittsburgh Community Event

Join community members as they help clean, green, and beautify Downtown Pittsburgh in this family-friendly volunteering opportunity.

Times: 9-12pm

Cost: Free

Location: Registration at Market Square

 

Incredible Edible Garden Tyke Hike with Venture Outdoors

Explore the herb garden at Mellon Park with the folks from Venture Outdoors in this kid-friendly hike. Participants will then make a pasta dish using the fresh herbs and eat it!

Times: 10-11:30am

Cost: $10/child

Location: Mellon Park

 

Opera Theater Summerfest’s “The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”

Introduce your children to OPERA at the Opera Theater Summerfest’s kid-friendly production of Mark Twain’s “The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.” Running time approximately 40 minutes.

Times: 11am

Cost: Adults $10, Children $5

Location: Beaux Arts Ballroom, Twentieth Century Club, 4201 Bigelow Blvd, Pittsburgh PA 15213

 

Meet Mrs. Hopscotch Rabbit of Calico Critters at Fun Buy the Pound

Fun Buy the Pound in Sewickley will be hosting a “Meet and Greet” with Mrs. Hopscotch Rabbit from 11-2pm.

Times: 11-2pm

Cost: Free

Location: Fun Buy the Pound, 406 Beaver Street, Sewickley PA 15143

 

Dippy’s Birthday Celebration at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Celebrate Dippy the Dinosaur’s 115th birthday! Examine rocks from the fossil bed where Dippy was unearthed, see real bones, visit with the Toonseum as they show how dinosaurs have been portrayed in animation. Also, bring a homemade or bought birthday card for Dippy and receive $1 off admission!

Times: 12-4pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15213

 

Free Drawing Class the Carnegie Library of Squirrel Hill

Join local artist, Patrick Smith, as he hosts a free drawing class for students ages 6-12 (from 12-1pm) and students 13+ (1-2pm). Students will learn the basics of classical drawing techniques and can start or add to their own portfolios. All materials provided. Advance registration required. Please email  renaissancedrawing@gmail.com to register.

Times: 12-2pm

Cost: Free

Location: Carnegie Library, Squirrel Hill, 5801 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15217

 

Art Lab: Window Refractions at the Mattress Factory

Art Lab is a regular kid-friendly educational experience at the Mattress Factory. This week kids can experiment wth refraction by placing objects in water, then cut up cool trash and turn the Mattress Factory lobby windows intoa a collaborative installation where objects seem to pass through the glass and distort. Inspired by John Latham’s “Untitled” installations.

Times: 1-4pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: The Mattress Factory, 500 Sampsonia Way, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

Family Fun Day at Keystone State Park

Keystone Park is one of the state parks within easy driving distance of Pittsburgh. On Saturday, they are holding a Family Fun Day, where families can compete against other families in good-natured athletic matches.

Times: 1-4pm

Cost: Free

Location: Keystone State Park, Derry PA 15627

 

“Dogs Get Scared, Too!” at Northland Public Library

Join the staff from Northland Public Library and Camp Bow Wow as they teach children how to be comfortable around dogs and avoid being bitten. For children ages 4 and up.

Times: 1-3pm

Cost: Free

Location: Northland Public Library, 300 Cumberland Road, Pittsburgh PA 15237

 

The Waterfront’s Summer Music and Marketplace Series

Visit Homestead’s the Waterfront for outdoor music, shopping, and a visit to the I Made It! Market!

Times: 2-7pm I Made It! Market and 3-7pm for music

Cost: Free

Location: The Waterfront, Homestead

 

Laughternoon at the Library

Join the staff at the Oakland Carnegie Library and local comedians as they present an afternoon of kid-friendly comedy. Participate in “laughter yoga,” hear silly stories, hear jokes, etc.

Times: 2-3:30pm

Cost: Free

Location: Carnegie Library Oakland, 4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15213

 

A Magic Show at the Hazelwood Carnegie Library

Join local magician, Weird Eric, as he presents a comedic magic show with balloon art.

Times: 2-3:30pm

Cost: Free

Location: Hazelwood Carnegie Library, 5006 Second Avenue, Pittsburgh PA

 

Classic Movie Night at the Children’s Museum

The Children’s Museum is launching their new classic movie night series and collaboration with the Pittsburgh Filmmakers with a screening of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. The feature film is preceded by film-related educational programming with the Pgh Filmmakers. For more info, please check out my article from earlier this week.

Times: 5pm exhibits close, 5-5:30 food available for purchase and educational activities, 5:30 feature presentation starts

Cost: Free with admission or tickets $3 at the door or $2 in advance

Location: Children’s Museum, 10 Children’s Way, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

Stars of Riverview Outdoor Jazz Concert

Citiparks offers its weekly outdoor jazz concert series at Riverview Park featuring Stacia Abbott. Followed by Cinema in the Park.

Times: 7-8:30pm

Cost: Free

Location: Riverview Park

 

Saving Mr. Banks at Riverview Park

Cinema in the Park is showing Saving Mr. Banks at Riverview Park. Preceded by Stars of Riverview Jazz series.

Times: Dusk

Cost: Free

Location: Riverview Park

 

Mary Poppins at Grandview Park

Cinema in the Park is showing Mary Poppins at Grandview Park.

Times: Dusk

Cost: Free

Location: Grandview Park

 

Sunday: July 20

Open Streets Pittsburgh 2014

Dance, walk, run, do yoga, and socialize on the streets of Downtown Pittsburgh as they close 1/2 mile of the roads to vehicular traffic and let pedestrians rule the roads!

Times: 8-12pm

Cost: Free

Location: Market Square to the Clemente Bridge

 

Bedford County Fair

Bedford County hosts its annual fair starting this Sunday with carnival rides, games, food, animals, a beauty pageant and lots more. See website for more details.

 

Bach, Beethoven, and Brunch at Mellon Park

Citiparks offers its weekly outdoor family-friendly concert series at Mellon Park featuring the Matt Murchison Mutiny. Activities for children provided by Temple Rodef Shalom and food available for purchase.

Times: 10:30-12pm

Cost: Free

Location: Mellon Park, Shadyside

 

PPG Festival of Colors at the Pittsburgh Zoo

The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Industries are hosting a celebration of COLOR at the Pittsburgh Zoo. Create a sand art or spin art masterpiece, watch animal painting demonstrations, create chalk art, and get your face painted. Stop by the PPG Aquarium to meet the zoo’s mascots and bring a white t-shirt to tie dye.

Times: 11-3pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: Pittsburgh Zoo, 7340 Butler Street, Pittsburgh PA 15206

 

Kid’s Day at PNC Park

The Pittsburgh Pirates are playing the Rockies at PNC Park this Sunday and the team is hosting a Kid’s Day! There will be special educational activities on Federal Street prior to the game, kids get a special item at the gate, and kids can run the bases after the game (weather permitting).

Times: Activities 11-1pm, Game starts at 1:35pm

Location: PNC Park, 115 Federal Street, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

Soergel Orchards Summer Corn Roast Kickoff

Soergel Orchards hosts its weekly summer corn roast.  New this year: 5% of the proceeds from this event each week will benefit a different school district.

Times: 11-4pm

Cost: Free to attend, play in their playground, visit their animal petting zoo,etc. , but corn costs extra :)

Location: Soergel Orchards, 2573 Brandt School Rd, Wexford, PA 15090

 

The Polish Hill Arts Festival

Polish Hill is holding its 7th annual arts festival with artists, craft vendors, entertainment, food, and children’s activities.

Times: 12-9pm

Cost: Free

Location: Intersection of Brereton and Dobson Streets, Polish Hill

 

“Let’s Make a Book!” at the Sunny Side Story Series at Pitt University Bookstore

The Pitt University Bookstore is hosting a regular Sunday afternoon children’s events this summer. This week’s event is about making books! There will be treats, stories, and fun.

Times: 1pm

Cost: Free

Location: Pitt University Bookstore, 4000 Fifth Avenue, Oakland

 

Whiskey Rebellion Day at the Oliver Miller Homestead

Join the folks at the Oliver Miller Homestead in South Park as they celebrate the Whiskey Rebellion, an important event in our country’s history. Displays, lectures, as well as historical skits.

Times: 1:30-4:3opm

Cost: Free

Location: Oliver Miller Homestead, Buffalo Drive, South Park 15129

 

Hartwood Acres Summer Concert Series

The Allegheny County Parks Department is holding their weekly Sunday night concert at Hartwood Acres featuring Lake Street Dive with Brooke Annibale, for an indie rock/jazz/soul concert.

Time: 7:30pm

Cost: Free

Location: Hartwood Acres Amphitheater, Hartwood Acres

 

Mary Poppins at Schenley Park

Cinema in the Park is showing Mary Poppins at Schenley Park in Oakland.

Times: Dusk

Cost: Free

Location: Flagstaff Hill, Schenley Park, Oakland

 

Have a great weekend!

New PGH Family Fun: Volunteer Princesses (and Princes, too!)

In my New PGH Family Fun series, I highlight new family-friendly entertainment opportunities within Pittsburgh.  I monitor social media sites and conventional news sources to find the most interesting and unique NEW adventure options for families in Pittsburgh.  Then, I write about them here! 

I was recently doing some aimless internet surfing when I stumbled upon a Facebook page for a Pittsburgh organization that I had never heard of before: Volunteer Princesses. My interest was piqued. After all, I’m the mom of a 4 year old girl and, whether we like it or not, we are definitely in the throes of a Disney Princess fetish around our house. I know I’m not alone.

Rachel Makary, Founder of Volunteer Princesses

Rachel Makary, Founder of Volunteer Princesses

I decided to investigate the program further and ended up meeting and interviewing its founder, 18 YEAR OLD (!!) Rachel Makary. I learned that Volunteer Princesses is an organization bringing princesses, princes, superheroes and eager little ones together at community events, hospitals, long term care facilities, domestic violence shelters and other places near YOU for FREE. Just because it makes the volunteers happy to see your children smile. Although the organization initially started in 2012, it has recently relaunched and significantly expanded its programming. Want to learn more? Here’s my interview with Rachel:

 

Princesses and Helpers

Some Princesses and their Helpers

Can you tell me more about what Volunteer Princesses does?

Our organization is comprised of a group of dedicated volunteers ranging in age from 15 to mid-30′s who enjoy bringing the magic of princesses, princes, and superheroes to children. Each volunteer carefully crafts his or her own handmade costume and then attends our events “in character.” At these events, our volunteers offer free “Meet and Greets” and photo opportunities for children. We also organize other activities including story-telling, coloring, puzzles, face-painting, jump-roping, blowing bubbles and handing out stickers. Sometimes, we even have sing-alongs and organized games like Red Rover; Red Light, Green Light; etc). We also hold events with individual characters, such as art classes with our Tangled Princess and superhero training clinics.

 

Where are your events?

When we first started, we organized events mostly at local nonprofits like the Ronald Mcdonald House, HEARTH Women’s Transitional Home, and the Children’s Institute. We then decided to expand our services to all the children of Pittsburgh, so we started setting up community events for everyone to enjoy for free. We had an event at Market Square a couple weeks ago and another one in Schenley Plaza recently, too. We plan on having many more throughout the city in the coming months. Please LIKE our Facebook page to find out about our upcoming events.

Parents or community organizers are also welcome to book our characters for parties or events. Although, we never charge for our services, we welcome TIPS! To book, just send us a message on our facebook page and we will reply back to you as fast as we can.

 

Reading a book with Rapunzel

Reading a book with Rapunzel

Why did you decide to start Volunteer Princesses?

I have always enjoyed making costumes for myself and first developed a cosplay hobby in 2012 when I was 16. One day, I was wearing a Merida costume near the Carnegie Library in Oakland when a bunch of little kids came over and wanted me to read them stories and take pictures with them. After that experience, I realized that my costumes could be used to make kids happy. I told a few of my friends about my plans for Volunteer Princesses and they agreed to join. We bought puzzles, face-paint, coloring books, stickers, books, jump ropes, and plastic balls.

Our first event was at the Ronald Mcdonald House. I was supposed to meet a girl who had just had a bone marrow transplant. Although her mom had initially warned me that the little girl probably wouldn’t have the energy to get up out of her bed, she got up, got dressed, and was ready to meet the princesses when we came in!

 

*****
Meeting Rapunzel!

Meeting Rapunzel!

After learning more about the Volunteer Princesses and their programming, it was obvious to me that my kids would freak at this chance. So…I hauled them down to the Carnegie Library in Oakland for an art class with Rapunzel. The experience was ridiculously cute. A group of little girls sat around a table with Rapunzel, each one decorating a handmade coloring page and chatting with each other.

“Where’s Pascal?” one little girl asked of the group.

“He’s in the tower,” another little girl chirped in. Rapunzel nodded in agreement.

“Did Mother Gothel let you out?” asked one worried-looking girl of Rapunzel.

“Only after I did my chores,” said the barefooted, long-haired princess.

The girls nodded to each other in silent understanding. They continued with their work.

The dialogue continued on in this manner, punctuated only by the shrieks of other little children as they spotted Rapunzel for the first time. It was priceless!

volunteerprincesses6

Although my kids didn’t do anything fancy with Rapunzel, it was just perfect. Instead of rushing through a lame photo opp, they had the highly unusual opportunity to just sit down and chill out with her. They loved it.

And I was just SO impressed by Rachel and her initiative in organizing this program. She’s only 18 years old! Just starting college. And somehow, she already has the leadership and organizational skills to pull this all together. More importantly, she has a mature-beyond-her-years spirit. An 18 year old that goes above and beyond to make Pittsburgh children happy? I think that’s really special!

You are a truly exceptional young adult, Rachel, and I foresee very wonderful things in your future. Thank you for what you are doing for Pittsburgh families!

 

New PGH Family Fun: Classic Movie Nights at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

In my New PGH Family Fun series, I highlight new family-friendly opportunities within Pittsburgh. I monitor social media sites and conventional news sources to find the most interesting and unique NEW adventure options for families in Pittsburgh. Then, I write about them here! 

Classic Movie Night in our house :)

Classic Movie Night in our house :)

Classic movie nights. I can still remember them clearly from my own early childhood. Once a year, my mom would let me stay up late to watch “The Wizard of Oz.” I would cuddle up on the couch with her, munch on popcorn, and marvel at Oz. Glinda, ruby slippers, a Horse of a Different Color, a hot air balloon ascending towards the sky. It was magical. It was special.

Now that I’m a parent, I still appreciate classic movie nights; although, in part,  it’s for different reasons. Sharing that piece of my childhood with my kids is deeply rewarding. Plus, as my children discover these stories for themselves, I can see their imaginations just EXPLODE.

IMAGINATION. It must be the best part of being a kid…

I was recently browsing through the Children’s Museum website when, lo and behold, I discovered a new program this summer: Classic Movie Nights.  The festivities begin this coming weekend with a screening of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I recently had a chance to interview Emily Simons, Arts and Programs Manager at the Museum, about Classic Movie Nights and here’s what she had to say:

 

What is Classic Movie Night?

Classic Movie Night is a chance for folks of all ages to visit the Children’s Museum after hours and enjoy iconic family films for a reasonable price. With special additional programming from Pittsburgh Filmmakers and dinner and snacks for sale, each of our three summer movies is a complete, fun, and affordable evening out for the whole family.

 

What movies will you be showing?

The first movie in the series will be “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” this Saturday. On August 9th, we will be showing Mary Poppins and on September 7th, we will be showing The Dark Crystal. Depending on how this initial summer series goes, we would love to continue screening family films, vintage cartoons, animated features, etc. Please send your suggestions for our next films to esimons@pittsburghkids.org.

 

How much does Classic Movie Night cost?

You shouldn’t have to break the bank to have quality family time! Tickets are only $2 in advance (https://shop.pittsburghkids.org/e-commerce), $3 at the door and FREE with Museum admission (Just show your wristband on the day of the movie for a free ticket). The Children’s Museum also has $1 admission/person with an EBT card everyday, and with admission you can stay for the movies.

 

What time does the movie start?

The Museum exhibits close at 5pm.  From 5-5:30, guests can purchase dinner, popcorn, and drinks in the Big Red Room Cafe. Also, our friends and collaborators from the Pittsburgh Filmmakers will be in the Theater at this time, giving a hands-on presentation about film: what it is, how it works, and the difference between film and digital media. Everyone will be able to touch real film and take a small piece of it home. Filmmakers will also be screening some short films from their Youth Media program, demonstrating how kids can get involved in the film production process. The feature presentation starts at 5:30pm.

 

Are children encouraged to be cozy for the event?  

We love it when folks make themselves at home here. if that means footie pajamas or slippers, we say, bring it on! We have theater seating for adults and a large carpeted area reserved for the cozy, sleeping bag crew. The Theater (and the entire Museum) is also fully wheelchair accessible.

 

Why did you decide to start this program?

Movies are such a wonderful, immersive way to experience stories, meet lovable and despicable characters, and learn important lessons. Plus, seeing them on the big screen is a magical and enthralling experience for young children. We specifically chose movies that are iconic, quality, and quirky. Many of us grew up watching these films and now we want to share them with the children in our lives!

*****

I must say, I am consistently impressed by the brilliance of the Children’s Museum and its programming. “Classic Movie Nights” is no exception. The series promises to be fun, educational, and affordable way for families to share some QT. Plus, it represents a very promising collaboration between the Museum and one of the city’s many creative assets, the Pittsburgh Filmmakers. I personally love these sorts of collaborations because it implies something really great: the city’s organizations are finding innovative ways to work together in order to enrich our children’s lives. I’m all for that!

What’s Going on in Pittsburgh this Weekend: July 11-13, 2014

Here’s my weekly listing of family-friendly events in the Pittsburgh region for the weekend of July 11-13, 2014.  Highlights of this weekend include Doo Dah Days, the Deutschtown Music Festival, and the Let’s Move! Family Dance Party at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater.  Oh–and a giant pillow fight in Schenley Park followed by a movie screening of Despicable Me 2 :)!!

 

All Weekend, July 11-13

South Side Works Exposed

The South Side Works presents a celebration of food and entertainment throughout the weekend.  Sunday is “Family Fun Day” with a variety of children’s activities and the I Made It! Market.  Check website for more details.

 

Friday Night, July 11

Ha Ha Tonka at the South Park Summer Concert Series

The Allegheny County Parks Department presents its weekly Friday evening summer concert series at South Park featuring Ha Ha Tonka and townsppl at an indie rock show.

Times: 7:30pm

Cost: Free

Location: South Park Amphitheater, South Park

 

Despicable Me 2 at Arsenal Park

Cinema in the Park is showing Despicable Me 2 at Arsenal Park.

Times: Dusk

Cost: Free

Location: Arsenal Park, Lawrenceville, Pittsburgh

 

Saturday and Sunday, July 12-13

Greenberg’s Train and Toy Show at the Monroeville Convention Center

A large train and toy show featuring exhibitors from all across the country, 500+ train tables for sale, and lots of train displays!

Times: 10-4pm

Cost: Adults $8, Children Free (tickets good for both days)

Location: Monroeville Convention Center, 209 Mall Plaza Blvd., Monroeville, PA 15146

 

Pop’s Farmyard at Triple B Farms

Triple B has launched a new family-friendly program on summer weekends called Pop’s Farmyard. Highlights: a hay bale jump, visits with animals, observation beehive, a farm playground, and “Education Mile,” a hands-on learning station about farming!

Times: 11-4pm

Cost: $5

Location: Triple B Farms, 823 Berry Lane, Monongahela, PA 15063

 

Beltzhoover Community Days

Celebrate the neighborhood of Beltzhoover with music, food, and fun activities for kids.

Times: 1pm-evening

Cost: Free

Location: Upper McKinley Park, Beltzhoover

 

Kick-off Weekend of the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix

The Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix is one of the largest vintage car racing shows in the country and it kicks off this weekend and continues for the next 10 days.  This weekend’s festivities feature 1960′s and 1970′s era cars at the Pitt-Race Complex in Beaver Falls.  See website for more details about times and costs.

Location: Pittsburgh International Race Complex, 201 Penndale Road, Wampum PA 16157

 

Saturday, July 12

Launch of New Tot Discovery Program at the Children’s Museum

The Children’s Museum is launching their new early childhood education program called Tot Discovery for children ages 18 months to 3 years.  Come to the Museum an hour before its opening and participate in themed hands-on activities, songs, dancing, and stories in the Nursery.  This week’s theme is dinosaurs. Advance registration recommended.

Times: 9-10am

Cost: $6 (for one adult and one child member) or $30 (for one adult and one child nonmember. Also includes admission to the museum).

Location: Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, 10 Children’s Way, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

Macy’s Baby Day at the Pittsburgh Zoo

Celebrate all of the Zoo’s BABIES, at this special event featuring live entertainment, crafts, and games.

Times: 11-3pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: Pittsburgh Zoo, 7340 Butler Street, Pittsburgh PA 15206

 

Tropical Forest Indian Mango Festival at Phipps

Celebrate the traditional Indian “Mango Festival” in the Tropical Forest at Phipps.  Lots of hands-on activities for the kids and mango tastings.

Times: 11-4pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: Phipps Conservatory, 1 Schenley Drive, Pittsburgh PA 15213

 

Let’s Move! Family Dance Party at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater

Join the friendly folk at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater for a DJ-ed dance party intended for kids and their families!  Great music, ice cream, crafts, games, and lots more!  Sounds awesome :)

Times: 11-2pm

Cost: Pay What You Can

Location: Kelly Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15206

 

Doo-Dah Days: Stephen Foster Music and Heritage Festival

Celebrate one of America’s most famed songwriters at the Allegheny Cemetery’s annual Doo Dah Days Festival.  Enjoy bluegrass by musicians specializing in Stephen Foster era music.  Also, participate in a living history experience as attendees are welcomed to a pre-industrial version of Pittsburgh.

Times: 11-4pm

Cost: Free

Location: Allegheny Cemetery, 4734 Butler Street, Pittsburgh PA 15201

 

Deutschtown Music Festival

Deutschtown is holding its 2nd annual family-friendly music and arts festival.  Family friendly activities begin at 11am and include arts and crafts, food trucks, flea market, and lots and LOTS of great music throughout the neighborhood.

Times: 11am-late night

Cost: Free

Location: East Ohio Street, Pittsburgh PA

 

Penny Arcade, Kid’s Comedy Show at the Arcade Comedy Theater

A comedy show intended for kids! Before the show, children participate in “collaboration stations” to help generate ideas for the show using crafts and literary prompts.

Times: 1pm

Cost: $10/ticket

Location: Arcade Comedy Theater, 811 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15222

 

Princess Cruise on the Gateway Clipper Fleet

Take a cruise on the Gateway Clipper Fleet with your child’s favorite Disney princesses.  There will be a DJ Dance Party and refreshments available for purchase.

Times: 1pm

Cost: Adults $25, Children $12

Location: Gateway Clipper Fleet dock is at Station Square

 

Frozen in July at the Shaler Library

Celebrate the movie, Frozen, at the Shaler Library.  Meet Queen Elsa, participate in crafts, stories, and other activities. Advance registration requested.

Times: 3pm

Cost: Free

Location: Shaler North Hills Library, 1822 Mt. Royal Blvd, Glenshaw, PA 15116

 

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo Concert at Eden Hall

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo is known as the “King of Kid Hop,” performing family-friendly hip hop concerts that are nationally known.  He will be performing at the new Hilda Willis Amphitheater at Chatham University’s Eden Hall Campus in Gibsonia.

Times: 4-5pm

Cost: $10, Children under 5 free

Location: Hilda Willis Amphitheater, Chatham University Eden Hall Campus, 6035 Ridge Rd. Gibsonia, PA 15044

 

Brisas Del Caribe: Una Noche En San Juan

Celebrate the culture of Puerto Rico at this family-friendly event sponsored by Cafe Con Leche. There will be free food, live music, dancing, and art!

Times: 7-10pm

Cost: Free, although donations accepted

Location: Most Wanted Fine Art, The Waterfront, Homestead

 

“Stars of Riverview” Jazz Series

Citiparks offers its weekly Saturday evening jazz concert featuring Dwayne Fulton.  Followed by Cinema in the Park.

Times: 7pm

Cost: Free

Location: Riverview Park, Pittsburgh

 

Thor: The Dark World at Riverview Park

Cinema in the Park is showing “Thor: the Dark World” at Riverview Park.

Times: Dusk

Cost: Free

Location: Riverview Park, Pittsburgh

 

Despicable Me 2 at Grandview Park

Cinema in the Park is showing Despicable Me 2 at Grandview Park.

Times: Dusk

Cost: Free

Location: Grandview Park, Pittsburgh

 

E.T, the Extraterrestrial at the Deer Lakes Park Wagman Observatory

Allegheny County Parks Department is showing “E.T. The Extraterrestrial” at Deer Lakes Park Wagman Observatory.

Times: Dusk

Cost: Free

Location: Deer Lakes Park Wagman Observatory

 

Sunday, July 13

Bach, Beethoven, and Brunch

Citiparks offers its weekly Sunday morning outdoor concert at Mellon Park featuring Tom Roberts “Harlem Stride” Piano.

Times: 10:30-12pm

Cost: Free

Location: Mellon Park, Pittsburgh

 

An American Celebration at Old Economy Village

Enjoy a living history celebration of America at Old Economy Village.  Features historically-garbed characters, 19th century crafts demonstrations, a vintage car show, music, food, kid’s activities and more.

Times: 11-7pm

Cost: Adults $10, Children $6, Children 2 and under free

Location: Old Economy Village, 270 16th Street, Ambridge PA

 

Soergel Orchards Summer Corn Roast Kickoff

Soergel Orchards kicks off its weekly summer corn roast this weekend!  New this year: 5% of the proceeds from this event each week will benefit a different school district.

Times: 11-4pm

Cost: Free to attend, play in their playground, visit their animal petting zoo,etc. , but corn costs extra :)

Location: Soergel Orchards, 2573 Brandt School Rd, Wexford, PA 15090

 

VBS Kickoff Carnival

Join Sampson Hill’s Presbyterian Church in White Oak for a free family-friendly carnival featuring free food, drinks, bounce house, face painting, balloon artists, etc.

Times: 2-5pm

Cost: Free!

Location: Sampson Mill’s Presbyterian Church, 1665 Lincoln Way, White Oak

 

Weather Permitting

Weather Permitting is a family-friendly outdoor concert series at the Shadyside Nursery. This week’s concert features Zack Schmidt, Arlo Aldo, and Fern Hollow.  The Pgh Street Foods and Mac and Gold food trucks will be on site, and there will be craft beer, too!

Times: 5-9, music usually starts around 6pm

Cost: Adults $10, Children Free; includes craft beer, although tips appreciated.

Location: Shadyside Nursery, 510 Maryland Avenue, Pittsburgh PA

 

Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra at the Hartwood Acres Summer Concert Series

The Allegheny County Parks Department presents their weekly Sunday evening concert at Hartwood Acres featuring the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra.

Times: 7:30pm

Cost: Free

Location: Hartwood Acres Amphitheater, Hartwood Acres

 

Giant Pillow Fight in Schenley Park

Bring your own pillow and participate in a huge pillow fight at Flagstaff Hill in Schenley Park.  The pillow fight lasts about 15 minutes and is followed by the Cinema in the Park’s showing of Despicable Me 2!

Times: 8pm

Cost: Free

Location: Flagstaff Hill, Schenley Park

 

Despicable Me 2 at Schenley Park

Cinema in the Park is showing Despicable Me 2 at Schenley Park.

Times: Dusk

Cost: Free

Location: Flagstaff Hill, Schenley Park, Pittsburgh

 

Have a great weekend!

What’s Going on in Pittsburgh this Fourth of July Weekend: July 4-6, 2014

Here’s my weekly listing of family-friendly events in the Pittsburgh region for the Fourth of July weekend! Highlights of this weekend include the EQT Three Rivers Regatta, Fourth of July celebrations citywide, and the Big Butler Fair! Plus, if you’re Downtown, you might even be able to spot some FURRIES, in town for Anthrocon 2014 :)!

 

All Weekend, July 4-6

Celebrate America at Kennywood

Kennywood is celebrating America throughout the weekend with daily entertainment and a fireworks display in the evenings. Pick up your Giant Eagle coupon before going to the park.

Times: 10:30am-10pm (fireworks at 9:45 pm)

Cost: See here for details on cost (it’s complicated). Pick up Giant Eagle coupon in advance to save money on admission.

Location: 4800 Kennywood Blvd. West Mifflin, PA 15122

 

Fort Pitt Fourth of July Celebrations

Fort Pitt will be hosting several historical activities to commemorate our nation’s birthday. At 11am on July 4th, they will hold a special Fourth of July ceremony with a raising of a historical American flag replica, a performance of the Star-Spangled Banner, and a reading of the Declaration of Independence. Fort Pitt will also fire its new replica 18th century cannon before the fireworks begin that night. Throughout the weekend, reenactors will also be on hand to demonstrate musket and cannon drills, soldier life, and marching. See website for specific info about times.

Cost: Free

Location: Fort Pitt, Point State Park

 

Kids $1 Weekend on the Gateway Clipper Fleet

The Gateway Clipper Fleet is offering a $1 Kid’s Weekend special from July 4-6. Using the online promo code KIDS114, you can purchase tickets online for an Evening Sightseeing, Good Ship Lollipop, or Ice Cream Social Cruise. See website for specific details about times and adult ticket costs. The boats depart from Station Square in the South Side.

 

Westmoreland Arts and Heritage Festival

This Festival is a celebration of local visual arts, performing arts, traditional craftsmanship, and history. The Festival also includes kid-friendly elements like theatrical performances on the “Children’s Stage,” activities at the “Family Zone” and a “Creative Movement Tent.”

Times: 11-8pm

Location: 252 Twin Lakes Rd. Latrobe PA 15650

 

The Big Butler Fair (until July 5)

The Big Butler Fair is the largest fair in Western PA with everything you would want in a traditional fair experience: rides, games, music, greasy food, livestock shows, tractor pulls, demolitian derbies, a beauty pageant and a fireworks show on July 4th! See website for specific details about event times and ticket costs.

Location: Big Butler Fairgrounds, 1127 New Castle Rd, Prospect PA

 

Leetsdale Carnival and Fourth of July Celebration (until July 5)

The community of Leetsdale is hosting their annual carnival and Fourth of July Celebration with a carnival from July 1-5th and a parade, music, and fireworks on July 4th.

 

Friday, July 4

There are a variety of Fourth of July events on Friday and I have provided info on community celebrations throughout Allegheny County. I have not included info on fireworks-only displays. For a full list of fireworks times throughout Allegheny County, Westmoreland, and Butler County, see this great article in CBS Pittsburgh. For this week, I have organized the 4th of July celebrations by region (instead of time) to help you find one close to you! Please click associated link to find more detailed info!

 

Pittsburgh, City

EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta

The free EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta is one of the region’s largest summer events and the “official” celebration for the Fourth of July in Pittsburgh. It runs from July 2-4 at Point State Park and includes tons of family-friendly fun including a Colcom Kids Zone, live music, dog shows, powerboat, sail, jet ski, and crew races, the World Championship of extreme pogo-sticking, and a BEACH, complete with seashells, buckets, shovels, and tropical greenery! The Festival culminates with the EQT “Flashes of Freedom” fireworks, widely regarded as one of the top ten pyrotechnic displays in the country. See website for specific details on times and locations.

 

A Fourth of July Party at Heinz Field

Heinz Field is hosting a large Fourth of July Celebration this year. The stadium will be transformed into a carnival-like environment with live music, food, and games. Fans can also participate in the “Steelers Experience” and view Steelers memorabilia. Best part: FREE admission!  Plus, it will remain open until the fireworks display, providing another unique spot to view them.

Times: Gates open at 2pm

Location: Heinz Field, 100 Art Rooney Ave, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

Princess Fourth of July Celebration

Celebrate the Fourth of July with the Volunteer Disney Princesses and Batman in Market Square. There will also be face-painting, bubbles, crafts, and more.

Times: 4-7pm

Cost: Free

Location: Market Square, Downtown Pittsburgh

 

Elliot Extravaganza at the West End Overlook

Celebrate the Fourth of July with the community of Elliot. Food, fun, and entertainment, plus a killer view of the fireworks from the West End Overlook!

Times: 5-10pm

Cost: Free

Location: West End/Elliot Overlook

 

4th of July Fireworks Blowout at the Carnegie Museum of Science

Enjoy a special celebration for the Fourth of July at the Carnegie Museum of Science. Explore the science of light, watch an omnimax movie, see a patriotic laser show, and watch some live performances. Also enjoy a few hours to explore the exhibits. Special lawn seating is then provided to view the city’s fireworks display. Advance registration required by noon on July 3.

Times: 6-11pm

Cost: $39/person, cost to park is $20/car and not guaranteed.

Location: Carnegie Museum of Science, 1 Allegheny Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

A Fourth of July Paddle with Venture Outdoors

Venture Outdoors is once again offering its annual Fourth of July kayaking adventure on the rivers. Starting at 7pm, participants can take a leisurely paddle down the rivers in either a solo or a tandem kayak. As the evening progresses, they can bring their kayaks back to the Point to get a front row seat and an unforgettable view of the fireworks from the river. Children must be 8 years old to ride in a tandem kayak with an adult and children must be 12 to ride in a solo kayak. Advance registration required.

Times: Paddle starts at 7pm

Cost: $70 for Venture Outdoors members and $95 for nonmembers

Location: Meet at North Shore Kayak Pittsburgh location

 

Pittsburgh, North

Shaler Community Day and 4th of July Celebration

Shaler hosts its annual Community Day at Kiwani’s Park on the 4th of July. This event features music, inflatables, fire truck rides, balloon artists, clowns, a poolside DJ and a fireworks display at dusk.

 

Zelionople Fourth of July Celebration

The community of Zelionople celebrates the Fourth of July with a parade starting at 11am, followed by festive activities at the Community Park, and Fireworks at 9:45pm.

 

Pittsburgh, South

Dormont Day

Dormont is celebrating its 100th Dormont Day with a variety of family-friendly activities at the Dormont Pool. There will be foot races starting at 10 am, children’s activities, inflatables, food, face-painting, a moon walk, etc from 11-5pm, music throughout the day, and fireworks at 9:30pm.

 

Brentwood Borough Fourth of July Celebration

Brentwood Borough is hosting their annual Fourth of July celebration. The event kicks off on July 3rd with food, live music, and children’s activities. On the Fourth of July, they will be hosting a 5k at 9am, a fly-over to honor veterans at 10am, a parade beginning at 10am and a fireworks display at 9:40pm.

 

Mt. Lebanon Fourth of July Celebration

Mt. Lebanon also hosts a large July 4th celebration at Mt. Lebanon Main Park on July 4th. The event includes food, games, rides, live music starting at noon and a fireworks display at 9:30pm.

 

Scott Township Community Day

Scott Township celebrates its annual community day and Fourth of July celebration at Scott Park. A variety of activities throughout the day including land and water races, water slide competition, kid’s money hunt, a special nighttime swim, and fireworks.

Times: Pool opens at 11am, Activities start at 12

 

Pittsburgh, West

Canonsburg Fourth of July Celebration

Canonsburg hosts one of the largest Fourth of July celebrations in the state. The two-hour long parade begins at 10am, followed by park activities like face-painting, inflatables, balloon art, spin art, and tons more! Fireworks begin at 9:30pm at the high school stadium.

 

Crafton’s Annual Celebration

Crafton’s 39th Annual Celebration kicks off on June 30 and continues until July 4.  Held in Crafton Park, the event has inflatables, food, games, entertainment, a petting zoo, and more. On July 4th, the celebration will culminate with fireworks at dusk.

 

Moon Township Independence Day Celebration

Moon Township is hosting their annual Independence Day celebration with family-friendly activities, food, entertainment starting at 4pm and fireworks at 10pm.

Location: Moon Park, Moon Township

 

Avalon Fourth of July Celebration and Fireworks

The borough of Avalon holds an annual Fourth of July celebration at Avalon Community Park. “Festivities” begin at 6pm, followed by fireworks at dusk.

 

Independence Day Celebration at Meadowcroft Village

On the 4th of July, Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village will host an old-fashioned celebration with historical games like a watermelon seed-spitting contest, an egg toss, sack races, and a pie-eating contest. Families can also participate in mock “lessons” in the one-room schoolhouse, learn about blacksmithing, practice using an atlatl, and watch open hearth cooking demonstrations.

Times: 12-5pm

Cost: $12 Adults and $6 for children 6 and older

Location: Meadowcroft, 401 Meadowcroft Rd, Avella, PA 15312

 

Pittsburgh, East

McKeesport Summer Concert Series and Fireworks

Enjoy an outdoor concert in McKeesport featuring “Treasure” and then watch fireworks after dark.

Times: Concert 7pm, Fireworks Dusk

Cost: Free

Location: Renziehausen Park, Lion’s Band Shell, McKeesport

 

Keystone State Park Independence Day Celebration

Keystone State Park is hosting Fourth of July-related free crafts and games for children in the Visitor’s Center from 11-2pm.

Location: Keystone State Park, 1150 Keystone Park Road, Derry PA (Westmoreland County)

 

Saturday and Sunday, July 5-6

Pop’s Farmyard at Triple B Farms

Triple B has launched a new family-friendly program on summer weekends called Pop’s Farmyard. Highlights: a hay bale jump, visits with animals, observation beehive, a farm playground, and “Education Mile,” a hands-on learning station about farming!

Times: 11-4pm

Cost: $5

Location: Triple B Farms, 823 Berry Lane, Monongahela, PA 15063

 

Saturday, July 5

Home Depot Free Kid’s Workshop: Build a Bughouse

Children are invited to participate in a free workshop at Home Depot on the first Saturday of the month. This month, children will be building a bughouse! All materials and instruction provided. Kids get to go home with their project, an apron, a pin, and a certificate. Intended for children ages 5 and up, although I’ve brought my younger kids and they enjoy it.

Times: 9-12pm

Cost: Free

Location: Participating Home Depot locations, including East Liberty branch

 

Lawrenceville Annual Fourth of July Celebration

Lawrenceville is hosting its 70th Annual Fourth of July Celebration in Arsenal Park on July 5th. The event takes place throughout the day and includes food, music, children’s activities, a petting zoo, an exotic animal show, train rides, pony rides, and a fireworks display at 9:30pm.

Times: 11am-10pm

Cost: Free

Location: Arsenal Park, Lawrenceville

 

Art Lab: Low Tech Overhead Project + Sun Animations at the Mattress Factory

Using cut paper, collages, found objects, and transparencies, kids can create their own animations for an overhead projector or using the sun outside (weather permitting).

Times: 1-4pm

Cost: Free with admission

Location: The Mattress Factory, 500 Sampsonia Way, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

Stars of Riverview Jazz Concert

This week’s Saturday evening jazz concert at Riverview Park features Thomas Wendt. Followed by Cinema in the Park.

Times: 7-8:30pm

Cost: Free

Location: Riverview Park, Observatory Hill

 

Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at South Park Summer Concert Series

This week’s South Park Summer Concert features the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Times: 8pm

Cost: Free

Location: South Park Amphitheater, South Park

 

Cinema in the Park at Grandview Park

This week, Cinema in the Park is showing Space Jam at Grandview Park.

Times: Dusk

Cost: Free

Location: Grandview Park, Bailey Avenue, Mt. Washington

 

Cinema in the Park at Riverview Park

This week, Cinema in the Park is showing Last Vegas (rated PG-13) at Riverview Park.

Times: Dusk

Cost: Free

Location: Observatory Hill, Riverview Park

 

Sunday, July 6

Bach, Beethoven, and Brunch

Bach, Beethoven, and Brunch is a weekly Sunday morning concert series held at Mellon Park. This week features West Hills Symphonic Band.

Times: 10:30-12pm

Cost: Free

Location: Mellon Park, Pittsburgh

 

Brunch at the National Aviary

Enjoy Brunch in the Rose Garden at the National Aviary, featuring the food of Atria’s Restaurant. Reservation deadline is Thursday, July 3rd. Admission included in cost of food.

Times: Two seating at 10:30am and 12:30 pm

Cost: Adults $30 (member), $35 (nonmember); Children $15 (member), $17.50 (nonmember); Children 3 and under are free.

Location: National Aviary, 700 Arch Street, Pittsburgh PA 15212

 

Kid’s Day at PNC Park

The Pittsburgh Pirates are playing the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday and PNC Park is holding a Kid’s Day! There will be kid-friendly activities on Federal Street from 11-1pm, a special prize for kids at the gate, and the chance to run the bases after the game (weather permitting).

 

Mt. Lebanon Public Library Touch-A-Truck Event

Visit the parking lot of the Mt. Lebanon Public Library for a touch-a-truck event where kids can explore trucks of all variety.

Times: 1-3pm

Cost: Free

Location: Mt. Lebanon Public Library, 16 Castle Shannon Blvd, Pittsburgh PA, 15228

 

Ross Township Fourth of July Celebration

Ross Township is holding its annual Fourth of July celebration with a parade starting at 3pm, crafts, games, and live music at Ross Township Community Center at 5pm, and fireworks beginning at 9:30pm.

 

Weather Permitting

Weather Permitting is a family-friendly, backyard BBQ style outdoor concert series at the Shadyside Nursery. This week features the music of the Beagle Brothers and the Turpentiners. There will also be food trucks, craft beer, and children’s activities.

Times: 5-9 with music starting around 6

Cost: Adults $10, Children free; cost includes beer

Location: Shadyside Nursery, 510 Maryland Avenue, Pittsburgh PA

 

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at Hartwood Acres Summer Concert Series

This week’s Hartwood Acres Summer Concert features the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra!

Times: 8pm

Cost: Free

Location: Hartwood Acres Amphitheater, Hartwood Acres

 

Cinema in the Park at Schenley Park

This week, Cinema in the Park is playing Space Jam at Schenley Park.

Times: Dusk

Cost: Free

Location: Flagstaff Hill, Schenley Park

 

Important Closures:

The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and area libraries are closed on July 4th.

Inspired Pittsburgh Mommy: Patricia Vince and Zachary’s Mission

In my “Inspired Pittsburgh Mommy” series, I feature Pittsburgh mothers who have started unique grassroots-type projects within the city. These projects directly benefit the greater good of Pittsburgh and improve the lives of our children, families, and/or other mothers. The series is my humble effort to create a positive, supportive environment among Pittsburgh mothers. I hope that it will a) help make these projects a success b) motivate other mothers to help support these projects and c) inspire other mothers to make their own dreams a reality. An introduction to the series can be found here.

patricia1

Inspired Pittsburgh Mommy: Patricia Vince

This time in my “Inspired Pittsburgh Mommy” series I am featuring a local mother named Patricia Vince. Patricia is the founder of Zachary’s Mission, a nonprofit organization helping families with critically ill children in Pittsburgh hospitals and other patient care facilities. I first found out about Patricia and her project from the well-known local blogger and recent Best of the Burgh winner, John Chamberlin of Ya Jagoff.

“She would be a perfect interview for you,” he said. “So much of what she is doing with Zachary’s Mission is influenced by her own experience as a mother.”

As is usually the case, Ya Jagoff was spot-on. I met with Patricia for a conversation at a local coffee shop recently. We laughed. We cried. We really hit it off. And I learned about Zachary, her gone-much-too-soon son, who died at 2 weeks of age from a rare congenital heart defect.

“When your child dies in your arms, it changes you completely,” Patricia told me. “What you choose to do with this experience will define the rest of your life.”

Over the past 4 years, Patricia has turned her own family’s tragedy into Zachary’s Mission, an organization that has brought hope to many, many Pittsburgh families in crisis. Here’s what I found out about Zachary’s Mission (in her own words):

 

patricia5

What is Zachary’s Mission?

Our general mission is to help families who have critically ill children in Pittsburgh-area hospitals and other acute care settings. After our experience with Zack, we have firsthand knowledge of the hardships that these families experience. We want to ease their burdens. We want to help them retain some quality of life. And we want these families to understand that others have been through a similar roller coaster and have come through, stronger than ever.

 

How do you specifically help these families?

Zachary’s Mission has several core components. The first is the distribution of Zack Packs. Zack Packs are custom-made backpacks filled with quality toiletry items, an insulated snack bag filled with goodies, and a beautiful journal. Since many families with sick kids never know where they are going to be (in both a physical and an emotional sense), it is incredibly helpful to have some nice creature comforts and snacks on hand to improve quality of life. Also, we discovered that writing in a journal can be a very therapeutic process when your child is ill or dying.

patricia6

Patricia and her husband with Zack Packs

Besides Zack Packs, we also provide a number of other important services. We make home-cooked meals for families. We provide them with gas cards, cafeteria vouchers, and parking passes. We pay their utility bills for them. As one mother told me the other day, “Most people don’t understand how much comes out of pocket when your child is in the hospital.” The financial assistance aspect of our organization is very helpful to many families.

We also run therapeutic scrapbooking and photo sessions to help families remember their little ones. We have even been known to offer some out-of-the-ordinary assistance like organizing birthday parties or doing Christmas shopping for families.

 

patricia9

Which families are eligible to receive assistance through Zachary’s Mission? 

We have helped families whose children have a huge range of illnesses from extreme prematurity to rare genetic problems to serious heart defects and everything in between. We don’t limit our services based on any particular factor. However, we do work with social workers and staff to identify families with the greatest need. Any family is potentially eligible if their child is receiving care at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, The Children’s Home and Lemieux Family Center, West Penn NICU, and the Children’s Institute.

 

patricia11

How can members of the community become involved in Zachary’s Mission?

We have had a recent request to dramatically increase the number of Zack Packs that we distribute at local hospitals. In response, we are going to need some community help! We always need people to run toiletry drives, stuff Zack Packs and volunteer at our events. Email us at contact@zacharysmission.org to get in touch about volunteering. Also, you can follow our Facebook page or Twitter account to find new opportunities to get involved. We also invite community members to attend the Zachary’s Mission Gala on November 15 at Longue Vue Club. Finally, you can do something right now! Toyota of Greensburg has generously offered to donate $5000 to the top 4 organizations that receive the most votes on their Facebook page. Go here to vote.

*****

 

After learning about Zachary’s Mission, I talked with Patricia about Zachary and her experience with a dying child:

 

patricia7

Can you tell me a little bit about Zachary?

Zachary was diagnosed in utero with a serious congenital heart defect called a hypoplastic right heart with myocardial sinusoids. We saw a pediatric cardiologist throughout the pregnancy and determined that we had two choices after Zack was born: 1)  if he qualified, he could be placed on the heart transplant list or 2) we could provide comfort care only. He was born on June 13, 2008 and initially showed great potential to survive. As a result, he was placed on the list. Unfortunately, everything that we tried to do for him over the next two weeks backfired and he just kept getting sicker and sicker. Eventually, we made the decision to withdraw care. Although I don’t remember the time or the dates very well, I do remember that moment with perfect clarity. Afterwards, we got a chance to hold our little Zack for the first time ever. I’ll never forget his eyes. They were so bright and beautiful. It didn’t take very long and then he was gone…

 

How did you first become inspired to start Zachary’s Mission?

When I was pregnant with Zack, I got a very beautiful book called “Christmas Jars” by Jason Wright. This book describes the fictional phenomonen of “Christmas Jars,” glass jars filled with coins and bills distributed anonymously to people in need. The only expectation:  the recipient will “pay it forward.” One year later, I didn’t have my little boy. But, I did have two glass jars full of small change. We used that money to buy Christmas presents for a family whose child had received a heart-lung transplant. At that moment, Zachary’s Mission was born.  We developed the project over the next two years and it officially started in 2010. At this point, we have helped thousands of families.

 *****

Finally, I spoke with Patricia about her family and her professional/personal life balance:

 

patricia2

Patricia and her family

How many children do you have?

We have three children, although only two are still with us. My son is 7 and my daughter is 4. Zachary would have been 6.

 

Are your children a part of Zachary’s Mission?

Yes! Both of my children are involved with Zachary’s Mission. They always tells me that they love to “help sick babies.” One beautiful part of this project for my family:  Zachary and his memory have become an even bigger part of our lives since starting it. Every time we bring comfort to a family that is really suffering, I can’t help but think, “This is Zachary’s legacy.”

 

How do you maintain personal/professional life balance?

Balance? Mmmmm… Hard question. I remind myself on a daily basis to have patience with myself and the whole process. After all, it is a marathon and not a sprint. I sometimes think that Zachary’s Mission could be even further along if I was out networking in the evenings and weekends; however, I have to remind myself that I have two young kids at home, they need their mom, and that is a good thing!

*****
patricia13

Getting the chance to meet Patricia

Patricia’s story really struck a personal chord with me. On my very first day of my first clinical rotation in medical school, I sat with a family as their young son was diagnosed with a very rare form of leukemia. I will never forget that boy’s mother. Within a few moments of hearing her son’s poor prognosis, she threw herself onto the table in front of her, arms and hair splayed out, sobbing.

“No! No! No” she wailed, as her entire body shook uncontrollably.

I wasn’t a mom then. But, I am now. And I can not imagine what that nightmare must have felt like for her.

As a medical student, I only spent two weeks with that family. But it was long enough to realize that when a serious illness strikes your child, it turns your world upside down. Huddled together in a hospital room, the family dealt with emotional, financial, and spiritual crises day after day.

Patricia also only had two weeks with her little boy. I imagine they must have been equally as turbulent. She delivered by C-section and he was almost instantly whisked away to Children’s Hospital. She didn’t see him for days. She didn’t even get to hold him until the moment she said good-bye. But, she pumped breast milk the entire time, hoping that one day he would be able to nurse. After he was gone, I can not imagine how she went on…

But somehow, Patricia found the strength to ensure that her little boy’s legacy would live forever. Zachary’s Mission is a testament to her enormous courage and a beautiful tribute to her son.

In the words of another Pittsburgh mom:

“I received one of the Zack Packs at Children’s Hospital. I am a mom of triplet girls and they have never been home. My life is the hospital. I want to thank you for doing this awesome work on behalf of your son. It is people like YOU who make people like ME smile and have hope and comfort. God bless you.”

Thank you, Patricia, for being a beacon of hope to Pittsburgh families who have been devastated by their child’s severe illness. And I am so, SO sorry that you lost your little boy….

 

“How very quietly you tiptoed into our world. Only a moment you stayed. But what an imprint your footprints have left upon our hearts.”

-Unknown