Middletown’s ‘Arts in the Parks’ continues in July

Arts in the Parks, a new program started by the city of Middletown, will continue in July. The program will conclude with a Luau-themed Food Truck Friday on July 26.

“It’s been shockingly packed,” said Jeri Lewis, community projects coordinator for the city.

“Specifically, on Mondays, we have the Cool Critters Outreach, and he brings in different animals and the kids can touch, carry, hold or pet them, and it educates the kids on the different animals he saves, and that has been extremely popular. We average anywhere from 60 to 100 kids on those days,” she said.

Arts in the Parks is a weekday program that runs from 10 a.m. to noon, and it rotates to various parks throughout the city. Parents or caretakers are asked to stay and can participate as well. The program is free and open to the public. Kids ages 0 to 17 are encouraged to participate.

“Artis in the Parks is creating positive memories for these kids. As they think back over their lives, and growing up, it’s something positive in our community that they will remember,” Lewis said. “… We need to create spaces where kids are able to have good memories here. So, it’s a perfect opportunity for parents and caretakers to bring their kids out.”

There is a craft each Tuesday. Participants need to register a week in advance for the craft because the supplies are provided, and organizers need to get an accurate count of the number of participants. More than 40 kids attended one of the most recent craft days, where attendees made “Under the Sea” water/snow globes.

One mother recently told city officials this is the first opportunity she had as a mom to sit and do a craft with her child.

“She realized that she never sat down long enough to do a craft with her kid. So, it’s been neat. You can’t put a price tag on that, you just can’t, and that’s why we do it,” Lewis said.

On Wednesdays, there’s yoga. About 15 to 25 participants, on average, have attended the yoga activities.

On Thursdays, there’s an interactive activity like kickball, or a “sports of all sorts” type of event. On July 11, there will be kickball in Sherman Park, and July 18, there will be water play at Douglass Park. Members of the Middletown police department and Middletown fire department have had an opportunity to engage with kids in a game of kickball, so it also provides community interaction.

Friday programs typically occur in the evening like a “Movies in the Park” or a “Food Truck Friday,” or it is a local field trip. (Every other Friday, the program will be held in the evening.) In June, there was a city-wide clean up on one Friday. Participants helped to clean up different area of the city. On Fri., July 12, there will be a “Movies in the Park” featuring the “Super Mario Bros” movie in Goldman Park from 7 to 10 p.m. On July 19-20, residents are invited to Smith Park for The Ohio Challenge Hot Air Balloon Festival.

The Arts in the Parks summer program will conclude on July 26 with a Luau-themed Food Truck Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. This is the first year for the summer, volunteer-led program.

“We have a company that does Hawaiian luaus, and they are coming in to do an authentic luau,” Lewis said.

Some children and families come every day, every week, but the program also continues to attract newcomers.

“We have new kids that come every day. It’s been awesome,” Lewis said.

For more information and a complete lineup of programming, visit cityofmiddletown.org and Middletown Ohio Events on Facebook. For questions, email Jeri Lewis at jeril@cityofmiddletown.org.

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