100 ideas for a season of #okcfamilyfun
5 furry & feathered friend encounters
Catch the Blue Angels at the Tinker Air Show
Summer Reading Program 2023
June 1 - July 31
Earn 600 Points to Win Prizes! Read 5 Minutes or Complete 1 Reading Activity = 5 points Log your reading and activities from June 1 - July 31
Once you reach 600 points, you receive: Your choice of: 2 youth books or 1 adult book OR Logo tote bag *while supplies last Keep logging your reading to earn additional entries for the prize drawings and help us reach our Community Goal.
10 OH, BABY! Cue the awwws for our Cutest Baby Photo Contest winners
12 REAL MOMS OF THE METRO Meet our inspiring Awesome Moms honorees
16 MONEY MANAGEMENT
Financial planning advice for parents of children with disabilities or special needs
18 MAKING FRIENDS WITH FIDO
3 tips to prevent dog bites
36 TASTE THE RAINBOW
Fresh & easy summertime recipes the whole family will love
38 WILD ABOUT SUMMER! Plan a season of #okcfamilyfun with 100 warm weather ideas and activities
14 FAMILY MENTAL WELLNESS
Statewide programs help strengthen maternal health and break cycles of substance use
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Can’t-miss summer festivals, plus Mother’s & Father’s Day celebrations
33 NEW & NOW
5 furry & feathered friend encounters in the metro
34 LOCAL FAMILY FUN
What you need to know to catch the Blue Angels at the Tinker Air Show
EXPLORING BEYOND OKLAHOMA
Learn about exotic and endangered species at Tanganyika Wildlife Park near Wichita, Kansas
62 LAST LOOK
Metro parents share their favorite things to do, top local issues
From the Cover
38 WILD ABOUT SUMMER!
33 CAPTIVATING CREATURES
34 TOP-FLIGHT AVIATORS
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Director of Events
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Imposter syndrome. Does this wily phenomenon sneak up on you, too? Whispering that you’re not enough, or perhaps that you’re too much?
I recently had the humbling opportunity to be recognized amidst a group of 13 other women, all incredible community leaders I have so much admiration for. And my imposter syndrome wasn’t quiet or sneaky; rather, it was loud, proud and taking over my brain waves.
I shared my misgivings with my 11-year-old daughter, Addie. And like kids do, she spoke words to me that first came out of my mouth, when I remind her to negate negativity, be her own hype and praise herself for who she is. (These kids are listening even when we don’t know it!) One of Addie’s statements to me as I fretted that I hadn’t really “earned” this opportunity has been on repeat in my head ever since: “Your friends and the people there aren’t celebrating what you DO. They’re celebrating who you are. They love you for just being you. And you should, too.”
So as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day approach, let’s take Addie’s advice. Let’s simply celebrate ourselves for who we are. And tell that imposter syndrome to take a hike. I’ll be cheering you on.
With gratitude, PageManaging Editor
ON THE COVER
Claire is the winner of MetroFamily’s 2023 Cover Kids Search in the 4-5 age category! In PreK at Goddard School, Claire is confident and determined to conquer new skills: she recently added riding her bike without training wheels, whistling and memorizing her dad’s phone number to her repertoire. Claire loves to paint, craft, dance, attend gymnastics classes, play with her dog, Fred, dig in the dirt and dress up. Her favorite meal is mac and cheese with peas. Claire is the daughter of Ashley and Mark and little sister of Cael, and together they like visiting parks all around the metro, as well as going to Science Museum Oklahoma, the OKC Zoo and their local library. Special thanks to the OKC Zoo for hosting Claire’s photoshoot!
Win a wild encounter!
Take a wild family vacation to Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Wichita, Kan.! Enter our contest for your chance to WIN a “Best Day Ever” package at Tanganyika Wildlife Park. Submit entries daily through May 16. The “Best Day Bundle” comes with admission for four, unlimited animal feeding opportunities and your choice of two Wildly Different Experiences, a value of more than $700! Enter at metrofamilymagazine.com/ contests, and learn more about Tanganyika Wildlife Park on page 58.
VOTE for your favorites
Thanks to all of you who nominated your favorite OKC businesses, attractions and organizations for MetroFamily’s annual Family Favorites awards! Now it’s time to vote to help us crown the winners — and help local parents easily locate the top metro resources.
Vote daily May 3 through 17 at metrofamilymagazine.com/vote. Each time you vote, you’ll be entered for a chance to WIN two fabulous prize packages, each including a 2-night stay at the brand new Brut Hotel in Tulsa, which is walking distance to The Gathering Place, as well as tickets to the Tulsa Zoo and Discovery Lab.
Best. Summer. Ever.
Stay tuned for our July/August issue to see the full list of your chosen winners and finalists.
When we say summer, you say FUN! Enter for your chance to win our Ultimate Summer Fun Contest with prize experiences from the Gaylord Texan and Tanganyika Wildlife Park, as well as toys and games like Paddlesmash, Gel Blasters and so much more! Enter daily from May 19 through June 19 at metrofamilymagazine.com/contests.
Seize the season!
Looking for the best in #okcfamilyfun this season? Planning an Oklahoma road trip? Find Oklahoma’s best beaches, waterfall hikes, drive-in theaters, splash pads, day trips, summer reading programs, tasty summertime treats and much more in our online Summer Fun Guides at metrofamilymagazine.com/summer
Earn College Credit in High School
Concurrent courses are available in person on Rose State’s campus, online, on high school campuses, and interactive television. More Info: email@example.com or 405-733-7951.
Pursue a College Degree
Earn a college degree in just 2 years! But you don’t have to stop there. Select from over 60 degrees and programs with options to enter the workforce immediately after graduating or transfer to a 4-year university.
Professional Training & Certiﬁcations
Earn certiﬁcations and training in drone mapping, aerospace, cybersecurity, IT, water operations, biotechniques, personal training, and more!
Community Learning Center (CLC)
Kids College Summer Camps
Send your kids to college! Rose oﬀers numerous camp options for 1st-12th graders where they can explore aerospace, geoscience, rockets, meteorology, chemistry, drones, archery, rock climbing, movie making, and so much more! Register at rose.edu/kidscollege
Look no further than the CLC to ﬁnd a rich assortment of educational opportunities open to the public. Classes include Art, Business/Finance, Conversational Spanish, Basic Computer Skills, Genealogy, Community Ensembles, Day Trips, and so much more. These are non-credit classes, conferences, and activities with the best faculty/speakers to provide lifelong learning and a fun environment.
Saturday, June 3, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Rose State College Student Union, east of downtown OKC
Enjoy petting zoos, interactive mini-classes provided by the YMCA of Greater OKC, banjo fun with everyone's favorite, Lucas Ross, bounce houses, character meet and greets including your favorite princess and OKC Jedi, touch a truck, Pioneer Library Maker Mobile, Arena 51 Nerf Battle Zone, food trucks and 30 vendor booths each hosting a kidfriendly activity. PLUS be entered to win great prizes including a trip to the Gaylord Texan or a YMCA family membership!
Adults and kids under age 2: FREE Kids 2 and older: $5 in advance; $8 at the door
Visit metrofamilymagazine.com/kidsfest to learn more and get registered today!
Don't miss the best family party of the year!
Oh, Baby!BY ERIN PAGE . PHOTOS PROVIDED.
The team at MetroFamily got to “meet” more than 100 adorable babies through our 2023 Cutest Baby Photo Contest. Every single one captured our hearts and it was next to impossible to select the winners.
Thanks to everyone who submitted photos, and thank you to prize sponsors: Luna Sleep Solutions, Radio Flyer, Britax, Evereden, Canopy, Newton Baby, GUND, Boppy and b.box! And parents, get ready to enter next year’s Cutest Baby Photo Contest for ages 0-3 years starting Feb. 1, 2024.
Congratulations to our 2023 Cutest Baby Photo Contest winners:
Hunter is the happiest of babies who loves tummy time, eating carrots and sweet potatoes and laughing at his furry dog sister.
Gabriel loves being outdoors, playing with his big brothers and being around people.
CJ’s favorite food is baby sweet potatoes and he loves to observe his hands and toes. He enjoys listening to mommy and daddy read books at bedtime.
Alexander, Adonis, Arianna and Ayren
Krisha loves to play with her mom and dad, eat bananas and go for car rides.
“Ellie” wakes up every morning and goes straight to see her dog, Juju. (One of her first words was Juju!) She also loves books.
Monroe loves her pink sit-in toy car, playing with her big brother and eating yogurt.
Gentry loves any and all music. She has the best dance moves around. She also loves visiting local libraries and reading books.
NOW HIRING CASHIERS & REC LEADERS
Sullivan loves numbers and building things.
Wiley loves dinosaurs, superheroes and going on outdoor adventures.
Awesome MomsBY ERIN PAGE . PHOTOS PROVIDED.
More than 50 metro moms were nominated for our annual Awesome Moms contest, and we are inspired by the stories of each and every one. Thanks to everyone who submitted nominations this year! Celebrate the stories of all our nominees by visiting metrofamilymagazine.com/2023-awesome-moms. Thank you to our Awesome Moms prize sponsors: Wyndham Hotel, 10 North Spa, Redrock Canyon Grill, Hefner Grill, Mama Roja’s, Upper Crust and Eminence Organics.
Congratulations to the 2023 Awesome Moms winner and finalists!
WINNER Denise Serrato
Denise remembers what it felt like to be a new fourth grade student in America, knowing no English and being thrown into a brand new culture. Now as a bilingual specialist for OKCPS, she relates deeply to her students in similar situations.
“I know what the kids are going through — I see how much they struggle and how scary it can be,” said Denise. “It’s important to remember that it’s as much about getting comfortable in the new environment as it is about learning. Every accomplishment is a huge celebration.”
Denise has been so inspired by her students over the past five years — as well as her own two children — that she is now pursuing her teaching degree through OKCPS’ Bilingual Pipeline Program, attending classes at night while working during the day.
“My priority is being the best mother I can be, but when you are a teacher, you become a second parent to these kids,” said Denise.
While juggling her responsibilities and being a single parent can sometimes be challenging, Denise’s palpable joy and gratitude in being mother to her daughter and son is the motivation for everything she does.
“Being a parent is the one thing I love most about myself,” said Denise. “It’s super challenging and stressful and wonderful all at once. My kids teach me so much about myself. I am loving the ride.”
“Denise came to this country not knowing the English language. She fought and persevered and she now works for the Oklahoma [City] Public School System helping kids who were in her exact situation while setting a great example for her own two kids.” Mario, nominator
FINALIST Margie Brown
Margie laughs that she has been raising kids all her life. She and her husband, William, had three children and fostered two children. Margie has also helped raise one of her five grandchildren and two of her great-grandchildren. She is proud that today, each of her descendants reflects her desire to “do right and be right” and contribute to the community around them.
Margie says parenting takes a lot of patience and a lot of practice and oftentimes more listening than instructing. She’s also a firm believer in the power of prayer.
“You have to listen to them as well as give your views because all kids and teenagers are different,” advises Margie. “You have to understand where they are coming from and where they are trying to go. We’re not going to agree on everything, but we can meet them halfway and give them a chance.”
Her greatest hope is that her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will remember and continue to pass on to the generations to come that she taught them to treat others with kindness.
FINALIST Shelly Fletcher
MARGIE (CENTER) WITH GRANDKIDS ALEXIS AND CHIKIRA AND GREATGRANDKIDS ROYALTEE AND
Just five days after giving birth to her daughter, Emma, Shelly had a stroke and lost complete use of her left side. Doctors told her she likely wouldn’t be able to walk again, and the worries swirled about how she would not only care for her newborn but also return to teaching in her second-grade public school classroom.
Not only did Shelly regain use of her limbs during inpatient care and outpatient rehabilitation, she eventually took up running. As a first grader, Emma wanted to run in the Oklahoma City Memorial Kids Marathon, and Shelly was inspired to join her. Shelly has since run five half marathons.
Shelly continues to teach, working with PreK students at First Learning Center in Moore. Colleagues and friends she has met since the stroke find what Shelly went through 17 years ago hard to believe as there are almost no residual after-effects today.
Emma praises her mom’s strength, determination, faith and love, and Shelly says sometimes being strong means asking for help.
“Just being a mom, asking for help is hard,” said Shelly. “But we need to be able to accept help and know we can’t do everything on our own.”
Learn more about our 2023 Awesome Moms honorees at metrofamilymagazine. com/2023-awesome-moms-contest-winnersA’LAIYAH
“To this day, our childhood friends and foster kids keep in touch with my mother and even take time out of their lives to come visit her. And, yes, they still call her mom.” LaTresa, nominator
“In May of 2006, Shelly had a stroke. Her chances of living were slim, but she knew that I needed her and she fought through the recovery process.”
Parents and Substance UseBY ERIN PAGE
Oklahoma has historically experienced high rates of parents with Substance Use Disorder (SUD), which has contributed to increased incarceration of women, maternal deaths and children being removed from their homes, and the statistics have only worsened in recent years. In 2019, Oklahoma had the eighth highest proportion in the nation of children in foster care whose removal was due to substance abuse, according to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS).
In 2018, the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and other local and statewide agencies studied how to improve outcomes of individuals with SUD, moms in particular, to benefit not just the parent but their children and families.
ODMHSAS identified three sites in which to implement a pilot program, including Tulsa’s Center for Therapeutic Intervention (CTI), the STAR (Substance use Treatment And Recovery) Prenatal Clinic at OU Health Sciences Center and Okmulgee’s CREOKS Behavioral Health Services center.
When the pilot program began, if a mother was using substances while pregnant, there wasn’t a clear path to connect her with recovery services until her baby was born substance exposed or substance affected. Even that didn’t always result in treatment. In 2018, 1,040 women gave birth to infants affected by opioid withdrawal symptoms in Oklahoma licensed medical facilities, according to ODMHSAS; 70 percent of those mothers were not connected with treatment after delivery.
“Child Protective Services (CPS) doesn’t have the ability to intervene until after a child is born, so, unfortunately, it can be a challenge to identify folks who may benefit from treatment or intervention during the prenatal period,” said Katie Harrison, senior program manager for Adult and Family-Centered Substance Use Treatment and Recovery Services within ODMHSAS. “The same thing could happen at the hospital level. If a baby is born substance exposed or affected, they are referred to CPS to be assessed for safety. If it is determined during the investigation that the family can provide a safe environment, a referral to treatment may not necessarily be made. And we know that there are often times, even though safety may not be a risk, the family could still benefit from treatment and support.”
The agencies considered what positive outcomes could occur if they intervened and offered solutions earlier.
“We really wanted to enhance supports by moving upstream to increase recovery during pregnancy,” explained Harrison.
What is a Family Care Plan?
One key component has been the development of Family Care Plans (FCP), which were officially launched as part of the larger 2020 SAFER (Safely Advocating for Families Engaged in Recovery) statewide effort addressing the continuum of care for persons who have a substance use, mental health or co-occurring disorder and are pregnant, parenting or are wanting to become pregnant.
Kept either digitally or in a binder, FCPs are client-owned compilations of documents that help moms and their providers keep track of all key paperwork, check lists, appointments and resources needed in their journeys toward recovery. FCPs also highlight the owner’s accomplishments, identify goals and address needs.
An FCP could include things like the log from a mom’s participation in a 12-step recovery program, notes from prenatal appointments, resources on safe sleep for infants, information on local domestic violence support services and much more. The client is encouraged to take the plan to all prenatal, treatment, court and agency appointments to be updated or added to by each provider they encounter.
“These families can have a lot of intensive social needs and are trying to coordinate care across systems and providers,” explained Harrison. “This tool can bridge some of the gaps between systems and aid not only the person keeping track but also demonstrate the steps they are taking toward recovery to CPS and the court.”
New programs help improve maternal health, strengthen families and break cycles
“Our primary goal is to prevent family separation whenever safely possible and provide enough robust community supports to that family that they can discharge home with their infant.”
Katie Harrison, ODMHSAS
If an infant is born substance exposed or affected and CPS is notified, the FCP details the steps the mom has taken and will continue to take in her recovery. While having an FCP doesn’t mean an infant won’t be removed from the home if the environment is deemed unsafe, it does help families reduce or eliminate safety issues and give them a better chance of keeping custody of their children.
“Our primary goal is to prevent family separation whenever safely possible and provide enough robust community supports to that family that they can discharge home with their infant,” said Harrison. “This provides the family greater odds for longterm recovery, reduces the ACE [Adverse Childhood Experience] score on day one of a baby’s life and breaks cycles.”
The data shows FCPs are working. At CTI in Tulsa, between October 2019 and November 2022, 81 Family Care Plans were developed. Of those families who had babies in that time period, 100 percent of infants were released from the hospital with their parents. Similarly, at the STAR Center in Oklahoma City, 85 percent of infants whose parents had FCPs were released home. The next step is to increase education and reduce stigma so that parents, or parents-to-be, with SUD will feel empowered to access services.
“Research shows a punitive approach has counteractive results,” said Harrison. “It can push people not to engage in prenatal care or treatment. But a public health approach has greater success
because it allows the continued relationship between the child and parent, reduces recidivism, improves child welfare outcomes and is a great motivator toward someone staying in recovery.”
Any person with an SUD who wishes to become pregnant, is pregnant, is in the postnatal period or who has child welfare involvement is a candidate for an FCP. Any provider can start an FCP for a parent or parent-to-be with an SUD, using online training from ODMHSAS.
Harrison hopes the success of FCPs will keep more families together, improve how local and state systems work together to support parents with SUD and empower long-term recovery.
“We have this view that if you don’t stop using it means you don’t love your child,” said Harrison. “But SUDs are a medical disease that need treatment. It’s important to address so we can improve the quality of treatment, engagement and access to treatment.”
Editor’s note: This article is part of a 10-month series of articles and podcasts with 988 Mental Health Lifeline. Find the full series at metrofamilymagazine.com/mental-health
SPONSORED BYBY THE YMCA
Household Members: $10*
Individual/Youth Members: $75*
Household Members: $45
Individual Members: $45
Financial Planning for FamiliesBY CHRISTINA MUSHI-BRUNT. PHOTOS PROVIDED. SPONSORED BY
The current cost of raising a child from birth to 18 years in a U.S. middle class household is estimated to be a little over $300,000, according to the U.S Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While some costs can be anticipated and planned for, what happens when the unexpected occurs?
In 2020, Aaron and Natalie Waters and their first daughter, Ella Kate, welcomed their second daughter, Collyns Claire, into their family. As a parent and a wealth advisor with Wymer Brownlee Wealth Strategies, Aaron was acutely aware of the costs the family would face.
However, when prenatal screening tests revealed that Collyns had Down syndrome, a condition in which an individual has a partial or full extra copy of chromosome 21, he and Natalie had to start reimagining their family’s short- and long-term plans, including their finances. Based on his professional and personal experiences, Waters shares his top five tips for families as they balance the expenses of raising a child who has special needs with creating joyful family memories.
1. Build a support network. This network can consist of family, friends and professionals who have a child with special needs or who have experience in associated areas. Seeking out wise counsel, whether through personal relationships or professionals like financial planners, lawyers and health care advocates, can be extremely beneficial.
2. Make decisions based on your family’s needs and assets. As parents, we often have a vision for what our family’s journey will look like and make decisions based on that vision. However, becoming a family that includes a child with special needs or disabilities may require significant adjustments.
Waters shares one such example: “When my wife, Natalie, decided to stay home with our children, we lost income, but we did save on daycare costs. Weighing those kinds of things is important, and they are not always easy decisions.”
3. Assess your short-term needs. Managing day-to-day finances is one of the most commonly cited challenges for families of children with special needs. It’s especially complex when the diagnosis is new.
“You look at what expenses are going to be,” explains Waters. “In that moment, all of a sudden, now we weren’t just having a baby. We were looking at a NICU stay, heart surgeries and
5 things to consider when you have a child with special needsDAD AND WEALTH ADVISOR AARON WATERS HELPS FAMILIES LIKE HIS BALANCE THE EXPENSES OF RAISING A CHILD WHO HAS SPECIAL NEEDS WITH CREATING JOYFUL FAMILY MEMORIES.
extra care that we weren’t planning on and all of those things can become very expensive. It was daunting.”
Aaron and Natalie sought out resources to help with immediate needs. Waters recommends families learn about their options through state programs, for example:
• SoonerCare is Oklahoma’s Medicaid program, which provides coverage for health care services to vulnerable populations. SoonerCare helps cover medical costs for individuals and families who are unable to afford them and who lack access to other health insurance coverage. SoonerCare can help families manage the costs of medical, dental and vision appointments, therapies, prescriptions and more.
• Tax Equity and Financial Responsibility Act (TEFRA) can help ease some of the financial burden associated with caring for a child with special needs, including therapies, medical equipment, copays and even transportation costs. A child must meet eligibility criteria, and then families are paired with a case manager, who helps them navigate through the process. Waters said TEFRA has been a “huge help.”
4. Plan for the long term. For families of children with special needs or disabilities, future financial security may require more detailed planning. Is independent living possible? What happens if the child outlives their parents?
“When you first receive a diagnosis of special needs, your mind races to all the selfish possibilities of how life is going to change,” said Waters, “including things like: will they be able to live on their own, what will our day-to-day lives look like and what will costs look like as we get her all the help she needs to thrive?”
Waters recommends two areas of focus when planning long term:
• Create a financial independence plan. Being financially independent is “that point where you know everyone is taken care of for whatever life brings,” explains Waters. “Creating a step-bystep plan for the new ‘what if’s’ in life will help you create peace of mind knowing that everything will be OK.”
• Be aware of laws and programs for families of children with special needs that can provide financial peace of mind. For example:
The ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) Act is a federal law passed in 2014 (and adopted in Oklahoma in 2016) that allows families to save and invest money in an account specifically for children with special needs. The funds that the parent, the individual or anyone else deposits into an ABLE account can help cover medical or therapy costs, and the funds won’t affect eligibility for other income-dependent federal and state benefits. If used for eligible disability expenses, the money is tax free to the beneficiary. The 2022 Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE 2.0) Act also includes a provision that increases the age of disability limit from 26 to 46, meaning even more families can open ABLE accounts.
Special Needs Trusts (SNTs) allow individuals a way to hold and manage assets for a beneficiary while still maintaining eligibility for needs-based government benefits. An attorney must establish an SNT, and this type of trust also allows the freedom to contribute unlimited funds (unlike ABLE) for a child’s lifetime needs.
5. It’s never too early, and it’s not too late! Whether your child is a newborn, in the midst of their teenage years or an adult, the time is always right to prioritize family finances. Simple tasks such as assessing your finances each year can help families avoid surprises, enjoy a sense of security and plan activities that cultivate joy.
“Our whole story is filled with twists and turns and things we never expected or thought we wanted,” said Waters, “and while it has not been easy, it has changed our lives in ways we could have never imagined. We’ve stressed over hospital stays, heart surgeries, medical bills and everything in between, but when I look back on our last few years, I quickly realize how much joy and beauty has been brought to our family because of Collyns and her diagnosis.”
Editor’s note: Wymer Brownlee Wealth Strategies is a full-service wealth management firm offering comprehensive financial services, tax and accounting services and business consulting services all under one roof.
Making Friends with Fido
3 tips to prevent dog bitesBY REBECCA FAST. PHOTOS PROVIDED.
More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the United States and at least half of those bitten are children, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition to the fact that children are more likely to be bitten, their injuries are often more severe.
These alarming statistics, along with a passion to support safe interactions with “man’s best friend,” prompted Angel Soriano, founder of Oklahoma City’s K9 University, to develop his specialized Dog Bite Safety training. Drawing from his 40 years of experience as a professional dog trainer and animal behavioral expert, Soriano’s Dog Bite Safety training focuses on dog bite prevention as well as respecting and understanding the nature of dogs.
“The American Veterinary Medical Association considers dog bites a public health crisis,” said Soriano. “But with education, we can help prevent dog bites, especially in children. I have grandkids, and like any grandparent or parent, I want to keep them safe and teach them the tools needed to avoid being bitten.”
While Soriano regularly provides training for organizations where employees come in contact with unknown canines — think mail carriers, utility workers, law enforcement and many others — he also wanted to help educate children in a fun way they would remember.
That’s how The Adventures of Frannie and Frankie came to be: this kid-friendly video series teaches children how to avoid potentially dangerous situations with dogs, and, if a risky situation occurs, how to best react to protect themselves.
“Education is essential,” said Soriano. “There are specific behaviors a dog displays when in an aggressive state and being able to recognize those can help anyone avoid being bitten.”
Soriano offers 3 tips on how kids and families can prevent dog bites:
Adults should always keep an eye on children around dogs, says Soriano, even if the dog is well known to the family and there have been previous safe interactions.
“Most dog bites happen in a familiar location — in the home or a friend or family’s home,” explained Soriano. “They may happen in the dog’s territory and because children by nature can be unpredictable, there is always the chance that a dog could react negatively to a child’s attention.”
Soriano also emphasizes to never take an owner’s opinion of their dog at face value. Owners often only know how their dog behaves with them or their immediate family. They are unable to foresee how their dog may react or be triggered by a new environment or situation.
Know the signs.
To avoid a dog bite, it’s vital to recognize the signs of aggressive dog behavior and to teach children to view them as warnings.
“Watch for stiffness,” said Soriano. “Dogs will stiffen up or momentarily freeze when they are uncomfortable. It’s a subtle cue that lets you know it’s best to keep your distance. Also look for hackles, which is when a dog’s hair on its back is standing up. This happens when a dog is fearful or feels threatened.”
Other more obvious signs of aggressive behavior include growling, barking, lunging, snarling and baring teeth. These are all indicators that the dog is in a state of fear, frustration or agitation and may react by attacking and biting.
When faced with or approached by an aggressive dog, it’s important to know what to do to stay safe. To begin, remain calm and yell commands in an authoritative voice, like, “Stop!” Avoid looking into the dog’s eyes, as this may be perceived as threatening, and don’t turn your back. Resist the urge to run and instead back away slowly.
“Dogs are hard wired, meaning it’s their natural instinct, to chase prey,” said Soriano. “Never try to outrun a dog. By running, it triggers the dog’s innate drive as a predatory animal.”
Soriano has spent his entire career studying canine behavior and has always had dogs in his life. He grew up watching his father informally train their beloved pets, and then when he chose to become a professional dog trainer, he had the opportunity to be mentored by some of the best trainers in the industry. Along with his work in dog bite safety training, his expertise includes search and rescue (SAR), tracking, cadaver search, personal protection, police and drug dogs and severe behavior curbing.
Since establishing K9 University in 1985, a family owned and operated business, it has become the largest institute in the Midwest to include nearly all aspects of dog training and behavioral curbing — and employs Soriano’s patented training methods.
“The introduction of our Dog Bite Safety training and now the addition of our videos tailored to kids is an opportunity for us to continue meeting a need within communities and help individuals of all ages safely coexist with dogs,” said Soriano. “We hope schools and any organization that works with children will consider this an effective resource to help educate and protect kids.”
Editor’s note: For more information and to access the children’s video series The Adventures of Frannie and Frankie, visit dogbitesafety. com . The videos are ideal for use by caregivers, day cares, schools, scout groups and more to share age-appropriate education and instruction about dog behavior and how to prevent dog bites. This video series is most appropriate for kids 12 and under.
MetroFamily’s Kids Fest at Rose State College Student Union (1910 Hudiburg Dr, Midwest City) features engaging hands-on activities, bouncing fun, arts and crafts, character meet and greets, face painting, animals, balloon animals, food trucks and more. Kids (2 & up), $5 in advance, $8 at the door; parents and kids under 2, free. 10am2pm. metrofamilymagazine.com/kidsfest
Things to Do in May & June
Shrek The Musical Jr. at Lyric’s Plaza Theatre (1727 NW 16th St) features a production by the Thelma Gaylord Academy based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks Animation film. $15. Friday, 7pm; Saturday, 2 & 7pm; Sunday, 2pm. thelmagaylordacademy.com
FREE Armed Forces Day Parade in Del City (SE 17th & Sunnylane, Del City) features a military color guard, decorated floats, vintage cars, Shriners and more. The parade starts with a flyover and aerial performance by the Tulsa Warbirds. 10am. cityofdelcity.com/armed-forces-day-parade
Festival of the Child at Yukon City Park (2200 S Holly Ave, Yukon) features a family-friendly festival with over 60 areas of fun including kayaking, pony rides, painting, inflatables, crafts and more. Best suited for ages 12 & under. $5 in advance, $7 day of; adults, free. 10am-4pm. yukonok.gov
Space Days at Science Museum Oklahoma (2020 Remington Pl) features special hands-on activities and live demonstrations, plus the museum’s permanent exhibits with NASA artifacts, interactive simulators and more. Free with admission. 9am-5pm. sciencemuseumok.org
FREE BikeFest at the Wheeler Ferris Wheel (1700 S Western Ave) features local bike shops, live music, familyfriendly activities and more. Noon3pm. facebook.com/ACOGOK
FREE Calderón Dance Festival in the Plaza District (1745 NW 16th St) features dance classes in various styles and performances from more than two dozen genres on several stages throughout the day, plus live music, artist vendors and more. Noon-8pm. plazadistrict.org/calderon
FREE Second Saturday XL at Oklahoma Contemporary (11 NW 11th St) features a showcase of their most popular camp offerings including DJing, shadow puppets and more. Enjoy art-making, artist demonstrations and family-friendly activities such as dance lessons, puppet shows and a pretend campfire. The first 75 kids (ages 12 & under) will receive a free ticket for a treat from the Snow S’more food truck. 1-4pm. oklahomacontemporary.org
Sensory Playdate at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) features sensory-friendly activities designed for all abilities. In May, create your own “I spy” sensory bag and learn a Western dance from Aspiring Attitudes dance instructors. Free with admission. 10am-noon. Also held: June 20. nationalcowboymuseum.org
NAMIWalk at Scissortail Park - Songbird Plaza (1423 S Robinson Ave) features an inspirational, family-friendly event with music, a resource fair and a 5k walk. Free to attend; fundraising encouraged. 8:30-11:30am. namioklahoma.org
Wild-ones Wildlife Walks at Martin Park Nature Center (5000 W Memorial Rd) features a guided hike to see and learn about the amazing wildlife all around us. Preregister. $2. 9-10am. Also held: June 17. okc.gov
Endangered Species Day at the OKC Zoo (2000 Remington Pl). Discover ways you can help endangered species at activity stations throughout the Zoo. Free with admission. 10am-2pm. okczoo.org
Drop-in Art at Oklahoma City Museum of Art (415 Couch Dr) features come-and-go art activities for all ages. No preregistration required. Free with admission; kids (17 & under) get in free. 11am-4pm. Also held: June 17. okcmoa.com
Celebrate with Mom
Ostrich Egg Breakfast at the OKC Zoo (2000 Remington Pl) features a delicious breakfast buffet. Tickets include admission into the OKC Zoo, the breakfast buffet, tram and carousel access, lorikeet feeding opportunity and entry into Stingray Bay. Adults, $40-$56; kids, $30-$45; kids (2 & under), free. Saturdays, 8 or 9:30am. okczoo.org
FREE Movie in the Park at Central Park (700 S Broadway Ave, Moore) features an outdoor screening of ET the ExtraTerrestrial (PG). Movie begins at sundown. Concessions available. cityofmoore.com
FREE SENSEsational Saturdays at Fred Jones Jr Museum of Art (555 Elm Ave, Norman) features a celebration of Factory Obscura’s immersive art experience SYNESTHESIA, which explores the five senses. Enjoy hands-on art activities inspired by the museum’s collection, meet Factory Obscura artists and more. 2-4pm. ou.edu/fjjma
FREE Kick Off to Summer at Southern Oaks Recreation Center (400 SW 66th St) features refreshments, lawn games, art and more to learn about summer programs at OKC recreation centers. Donations of canned foods are encouraged. All ages welcome. 2-6pm. okc.gov
MAY 24-JUNE 4
Hamilton at Civic Center Music Hall (201 N Walker Ave) features the story
OKC Flower and Garden Festival at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features a variety of vendors with flowers, herbs, succulents, jewelry, art, crafts and other garden-related items sure to brighten anyone’s home. Free to attend. 9am-4pm. myriadgardens.org
FREE Family Yoga Class at Bikram Yoga Studio (210 S Ellison Ave) features a family-focused class taught by Heather Geis Lensgraf, RYT-500. Preregister. 2pm. bikramyogaokc.com
Oklahoma Stories: Clara Luper
Centennial at Civic Center Music Hall (201 N Walker Ave) features guest artist Karen Slack and the Oklahoma City Philharmonic performing in honor of the 100th birthday of Civil Rights activist Clara Luper. $27 & up. 8pm. okcphil.org
FREE Dancing in the Gardens at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features an evening of dancing with salsa dance instructors and a live DJ. All ages welcome. 7-11pm. Also held: June 16 –MTV Dance Hits myriadgardens.org
of American founding father Alexander Hamilton with a score that blends hip hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway. Best suited for ages 10 & up. $39 & up. See website for showtimes. okcbroadway.com
Savannah Bananas at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark (2 S Mickey Mantle Dr) features a fast-paced, action-packed style of baseball. The Bananas will face off against their rival, the Party Animals. $25. See website for game times. thesavannahbananas.com
JUNE 1-JULY 27
FREE Summer Thursdays at Oklahoma Hall of Fame (1400 Classen Dr) features complimentary museum admission, story time, arts and crafts and outdoor games. Each Thursday will highlight an Oklahoma Hall of
Fame member. Thursdays, 10am-5pm; story time & crafts, until 2pm. oklahomahof.com
FREE Kids Fishing Derby at Spring Creek Park at Arcadia Lake (SE 15th St, Edmond). Young anglers, ages 5-15, compete for prizes. Bring bait, fishing equipment, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and a lawn chair. Children must be accompanied by an adult. 7:30am-noon. arcadialakeok.com
Edmond Electric Touch-a-Truck at UCO Parking Lot #6 (Main & Hurd on Baumann, Edmond). Kids of all ages can experience life-size vehicles and interact with community support leaders like police officers, firefighters, construction workers and many more. Proceeds benefit the Edmond Hope Center. $2 suggested donation. 9am-noon. edmondelectric.com/touchatruck
MetroFamily’s Kids Fest at Rose State College Student Union (1910 Hudiburg Dr, Midwest City) features engaging hands-on activities, bouncing fun, arts and crafts, character meet and greets, face painting, animals, balloon animals, food trucks and more. Kids (2 & up), $5 in advance, $8 at the door; parents and kids under 2, free. 10am-2pm. metrofamilymagazine.com/kidsfest
Kids Take Over the Cowboy at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St). Learn what kind of plants and animals live in the desert and determine how they manage to survive through a fun game and scavenger hunt. Enjoy story time at 10:30 and 11:30am. Free with admission. 10am-noon. nationalcowboymuseum.org
Autism Oklahoma PieceWalk at Scissortail Park (415 S Robinson Ave) features a PieceWalk, kids’ zone, food trucks and a resource fair benefiting Autism Oklahoma. Free to attend; fundraising encouraged. 6:30-8:30pm. piecewalk.org
Children’s Gardening Fair at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features gardening activities, food trucks, vendors and music. $8; free for members and kids 2 & under. 10am-5pm myriadgardens.org
Teach your child about dog bite safety!
Kids and dogs together can be a beautiful thing – until it’s not! More than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year in the US and at least half of those bitten are children (CDC).
The experts at K9 University have created a child-oriented video that gives easy-to-understand instructions about how to know the signs of aggressive dog behavior and what to do if a dog becomes aggressive.
Go to dogbitesafety.com
to find out more about this invaluable video.
Madagascar the Musical at Civic Center Music Hall (201 N Walker Ave) features a live musical spectacular with Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria as they bound out of the zoo. $41 & up. 7pm. okcciviccenter.com
Much Ado About Nothing at Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park (2920 Paseo) features the tale of Beatrice and Benedick, both sworn to a solo life, determined to evade Cupid’s quiver of arrows. $10 & up. Thursday, 7:30pm; Friday & Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 7:30pm. okshakes.org
FREE City of Moore Kid’s Fishing Derby at Buck Thomas Park (1903 NE 12th St). Kids ages 5-15 can cast a pole to try to catch a prize fish. Bring your own pole and bait. Kids must be accompanied by an adult. 8-11am. cityofmoore.com
Walk for Kids at Scissortail ParkRobinson Lawn (801 S Robinson Ave) features a family-friendly, 2.5k walk benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities Oklahoma City. Preregister. 8:30-11am. rmhc-okc.org/walk-for-kids
FREE Second Saturday at Oklahoma Contemporary (11 NW 11th St) features a family-focused day of artmaking around playful patterns, plus performances and gallery adventures. 1-4pm. oklahomacontemporary.org
FREE SONIC Summer Movies at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features an outdoor screening of Matilda. Pre-movie activities begin at 7pm; movie begins at 9pm. Also held: June 21 –Puss in Boots; June 28 – My Big Fat Greek Wedding. myriadgardens.org
The Stinky Cheeseman and Other Fairly Stupid Tales at Oklahoma Children’s Theatre (2501 N Blackwelder Ave) features an adaptation of Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith’s quintessential children’s book of fractured fairy tales. Everything from Chicken Little to The Gingerbread Man gets a complete makeover. Adults, $11; kids (2-12), $9. See website for show times. oklahomachildrenstheatre.org
FREE Fiesta Friday in Historic Capitol Hill (S Harvey between 24th & 25th St) features a family-friendly block party with pop-up shops, a DJ and live entertainment. 6-9pm. historiccapitolhill.com
Picnic on the Prairie at Harn Homestead (1721 N Lincoln Blvd) features tours of the historic buildings and the grounds, oldfashioned games, arts and crafts and more. Families can bring their own picnic lunch or purchase from onsite food trucks. Free admission. 10am-2pm. harnhomestead.com
FREE Floating Films at RIVERSPORT OKC (800 Riversport Dr) features a waterside screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark. No outside food and beverages allowed. Film begins at sunset. riversportokc.org
Spoke Street Night Market in the Wheeler District (1701 S Western Ave) features more than 25 pop-up vendors, food trucks, drinks and more. 6-9pm. wheelerdistrict.com
OKC Pridefest & Parade at Scissortail Park (415 S Robinson Ave) features a three-day festival with art, music, a parade and more. See website for schedule. okcpridealliance.org
JUNE 27-JULY 2
The Sound of Music at Civic Center Music Hall (201 N Walker Ave) presents an all-new production from Lyric Theatre featuring a 75-member cast and live orchestra. $42 & up. See website for show times. lyrictheatreokc.com
FREE Tinker Air Show at Tinker Air Force Base (3001 S Douglas Blvd, Midwest City) features the U.S. Navy Blue Angles and an array of other flying acts, plus static displays, a STEM area and more. 8am-5pm. tinkerairshow.org
Celebrate with Dad
Bluegrass, BBQ & Brews at Riversport OKC (800 Riversport Dr) features an afternoon of Oklahoma barbecue and free live music featuring OKC’s own The Bottom of the Barrel, plus whitewater rafting, surfing and tubing. Free to attend; parking, $5. 11am-6pm. riversportokc.org
Charlie Christian International Music Festival at Oklahoma City Community College (7777 S May Ave) features music acts such as the Duke Ellington School of Music Combo, Shortt Dogg and Charlie Christian-style guitarist Mark Whitman. See website for tickets starting May 1. 6pm-midnight. charliechristian.org
#FullMoonOKC Bike Ride at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features a onehour sunset bike ride throughout downtown Oklahoma City. June’s ride celebrates the Strawberry Moon. $5 suggested donation. 8:30-9:30pm. myriadgardens.org
deadCenter Film Festival in downtown Oklahoma City (various locations) features short films, documentaries,
comedies, scary monster movies and some of the best independent films from around the world and all over Oklahoma. Prices vary. See website for movie times. deadcenterfilm.org
Drop-in Art at Oklahoma City Museum of Art (415 Couch Dr) features comeand-go art activities for all ages. No preregistration required. In June, make impressionistic marker paintings. Free with admission; kids (17 & under) get in free. 11am-4pm. okcmoa.com
FREE Family Yoga Class at Bikram Yoga Studio (210 S Ellison Ave) features a family-focused class taught by Heather Geis Lensgraf, RYT-500. Preregister. 2pm. bikramyogaokc.com
June 26 - 30
Illuminate Your Creativity
Age: Rising 8th - 12th Grade
Time: M-F Full Day
Place: Oklahoma City University
Cost: $385 (incl. lunch & snacks)
Juneteenth Celebration at the Oklahoma History Center (800 Nazih Zuhdi Dr) features Carmen Fields, author of Going Back to T-Town: The Ernie Fields Territory Big Band, musical performances and an African cultural fashion show. 5pm. okhistory.org
Tulsa Juneteenth Festival in the Historic Greenwood District (Greenwood Ave, Tulsa) features a festival that commemorates African American freedom, emphasizes education, celebrates the rich heritage of Greenwood, encourages healthy and active lifestyles and advocates community impact. See website for event schedule.
Juneteenth on the East St between N Kelham & N Hood) features live music, interactive murals, dance performances, spoken word, food trucks, vendors, a car show and a 5k run/walk. See website for event schedule. withloveokc.org/juneteenth
Norman Juneteenth Celebration Reaves Park (2501 Jenkins Ave, Norman) features guest speakers, vendors, food trucks, games, a domino tournament, fireworks and more. 6-10pm. facebook.com/normanokparks
For a full list of statewide Juneteenth events, visit metrofamilymagazine.com/ celebrate-juneteenth-okc.
JUNE 14-JULY 4
LibertyFest in Edmond (various locations) features concerts, a rodeo, car show, Park Fest, radio show, Liberty Sprint, parade and fireworks. Prices vary, most events are free. See website for schedule. libertyfest.org
JUNE 24 & JULY 1
Stars & Stripes River Festival at RIVERSPORT OKC (800 Riversport Dr) features a full day of rowing, paddling and dragon boat racing on June 24. The celebration continues with a block party on July 1. Free to attend; parking, $10. See website for schedule. riversportokc.org
Yoga for Teens
JULY 3 & 4
FREE Yukon Freedom Fest at Yukon City Park & Chisholm Trail Park (2200 S Holly, 500 W Vandament, Yukon) features live music, kids’ activities, contests, food trucks, fireworks and more. Monday, 5-10pm; Tuesday, 8am-10pm. yukonok.gov/freedomfest
FREE Celebration in the Heartland at Buck Thomas Park (1903 NE 12th St, Moore) features family-friendly activities, food, music, vendors, local shopping, fireworks and more. 2-10pm. cityofmoore.com
FREE Tribute to Liberty at Joe B Barnes Regional Park (8700 E Reno Ave, Midwest City) features a familycentered patriotic celebration with music, food trucks and fireworks display. 7-10pm. midwestcityok.org
ASK THE EXPERT
Hefner Eye CareDr. Kim Hefner
What are the benefits to my family of learning and practicing yoga?
Yoga is beneficial for all ages but can be especially impactful when family members practice together. Screen-free family time together is always precious, and parents role modeling healthy habits is important as well. Yoga exercises promote strength, flexibility and balance. The activities we teach improve resilience, self-regulation (the ability to identify and deal with emotions in a positive way) and attention restoration.
To celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, I am hosting two free family yoga classes for ages 4 and up on May 13 and June 17 at 2 p.m. Classes will be held at Bikram Yoga Studio, 210 S Ellison Ave., and “family fun” will be emphasized! Attendees are encouraged to preregister at bikramyogaokc.com/ apps/mindbody/classes/65
My 8-year-old daughter was prescribed glasses for nearsightedness. My eyes are terrible and got worse as I got older. Is there any way to stop the progression of nearsightedness in kids?
Yes! It’s possible that your daughter would benefit from a new contact lens program called MiSight 1 day, which is a unique contact lens for children ages 8 to 12 that has proven to slow and in some cases stop the progression of myopia (nearsightedness). This is especially important because 96% of childhood onset myopia worsens as the child grows and our modern lifestyle of not spending much time outdoors, and, instead, spending more time on digital devices, exacerbates the problem. The results of the clinical trials of this contact lens treatment are impressive, with 59% of the children in the study having the progression slowed and 41% of the participants having no progression. We’re excited to provide this treatment option to our young patients.
5757 NW 132nd Street (south of MacArthur & Memorial) www.hefnereyecare.com
Stillwell Strawberry Festival in downtown Stillwell (Division St & Hwy 59, Stillwell) features a talent contest, carnival, parade, car show, kids’ zone and more. Free to attend. See website for schedule. strawberrycapital.com
Stirling Classic Scottish Festival at Mollie Spencer Farm (1001 S Garth Brooks Blvd, Yukon) features live entertainment including Celtic and pipe bands, Scottish and Irish dance troupes as well as traditional Scottish heavy athletics, sheep herding demonstrations, Celtic merchandise, Scottish and American cuisine, kids’ crafts and games. $10; first responders & veterans, $5; kids (9 & under), free. Friday, 7-10pm; Saturday & Sunday, 10am-6pm. thestirlingclassicsf.com
FREE May Fair Arts Festival at Campus Corner (Boyd & Asp, Norman) features merchandise and exhibits from local artists and crafters, a children’s art contest and more. Saturday, 10am-6pm; Sunday, 10am-5pm. oucampuscorner.com
Chuck Wagon Festival at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) features a celebration of Western and Native American history, art and cuisine for all ages with artisan demonstrations, Western reenactors, archery, craft stations, country and Western dancing, live music performed by Rodeo Opry and more. $20; museum members, kids (12 & under), foster families and Blue Star families, free. 10am-4pm. nationalcowboymuseum.org
Paseo Arts Festival in the Paseo Arts District (3022 Paseo St) features visual artists selling original artwork, live music, kids’ activities and more. Free to attend. Saturday & Sunday, 10am-8pm, music until 10pm. Monday, 10am-5pm. thepaseo.org/festival
Red Earth Festival at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) features artistic creations by some of America’s most celebrated Native artists. Liichokoshkomo’, The Cowboy’s interactive outdoor venue, will showcase the diversity of the West with inter-tribal native dwellings serving as a backdrop for hands-on arts & crafts stations, artist demonstrations, live music and special presentations of tribal dance. All ages welcome. Adults, $15 & up; kids (6 & under), free with paid adult. 9am-5pm. redearth.org
FREE Route 66 Triple Tour (Warr Acres, Bethany & Yukon) features a day full of festivities right on the Mother Road including food trucks, live entertainment, car shows, outdoor movie and more. See website for schedule and location information. yukonok.gov/tripletour
FREE Jazz in June at Andrews Park (201 W Daws St, Norman) features a three-day outdoor festival with a long list of jazz musicians. See website for schedule. jazzinjune.org
Blackberry Festival at McLoud Veterans Memorial Park (600 E Park St, McLoud) features all kinds of blackberry-themed items as well as live music, a parade, carnival, games, food and fireworks. Free to attend; participation prices vary. Friday, 5-10pm; Saturday, 9am-11pm. mcloudchamber.com
Porter Peach Festival in downtown Porter (Main Street, Porter) features live music, a parade, food trucks, arts & crafts vendors, a culinary contest, tractor pulls, free peaches and ice cream (while supplies last on Saturday). Free to attend. See website for schedule. porterpeachfestivals.com
OKC Thrive Fest was held March 25 at RIVERSPORT OKC and a great time was enjoyed by all! Hands-on activities, movement skill challenges, mental health info, nutrition ideas and much more added to the family fun! Look for an announcement in the near future about next year's event AND mark your calendar for another MetroFamily event, Kids Fest on June 3 at Rose State College!
We are an
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit gotrcentralok.org
We are celebrating the season of sunshine and 25 years of MetroFamily providing #okcfamilyfun ideas and parenting resources to our community! Within these pages, our team has compiled 100 ideas for summer fun — find 25 of our favorite OKC staples, 25 trending things to do, 25 close-to-home travel destinations and 25 boredom busters for days at home.
Plus, you’ll find our favorite animal experiences in the metro, top tips to visit the upcoming Tinker Air Show, summertime recipes the whole family will love and a behind-the-scenes look at vacation destination Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Wichita, Kan. Find even more seasonal fun at metrofamilymagazine.com/summer. We wish you and your family the best summer ever!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
33 CAPTIVATING CREATURES
5 furry & feathered friend encounters in the metro
34 TAKE FLIGHT
Tips to catch the Blue Angels at the Tinker Air Show
36 TASTE THE RAINBOW
Fresh & easy summertime recipes the whole family will love
38 WILD ABOUT SUMMER
Plan a season of #okcfamilyfun with 100 warm weather ideas and activities
58 CLOSE-TO-HOME FAMILY ADVENTURE
Learn about exotic and endangered species at Tanganyika Wildlife Park near Wichita, Kansas
Top 5 animal encounters in OKCBY ERIN PAGE . PHOTOS PROVIDED.
Check out our top 5 recs to adventure with animals in the metro this summer:
As seen on the cover, meet and feed the flamingoes at the OKC Zoo. Flamingo Mingle feedings are held daily in the Children’s Zoo from 9 to 10 a.m., plus from 3 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The cost is $5 per person, and the experience is open to ages 3 and up.
Bonus: While at the Zoo, check out animal feeding experiences with the Indian rhinos, giraffes and lorikeets, or book a Wild Encounter for small-group, behind-the-scenes experiences. Find out more about all the fun happening at the OKC Zoo at okczoo.org/plan_your_visit
Become besties with more than 40 gentle, curious, hilarious alpacas at Magnolia Blossom Ranch in Newcastle. One-hour farm tours include interacting with the alpacas, feeding them treats, learning about their care and their fleece and enjoying the wideopen space and fresh air. Farm tours cost $5 per person and are subject to availability. Visit magnoliablossomranch. com for more information.
Fun on the Farm
Chester’s Party Barn in Piedmont is a popular destination during the fall for pumpkin patch season, but did you know you can visit any time of year? Welcome summer with a visit to the farm and petting zoo, where you can ride a pony, snuggle a bunny or feed the goats! Bonus: meet furry and feathered friends from Chester’s at MetroFamily’s Kids Fest on Saturday, June 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Rose State College.
Kids can beat the summertime slide by practicing their reading skills with the best listeners around — certified therapy dogs! Various Metropolitan Library System locations host the FREE program, and reading sessions last 15 to 20 minutes. Visit metrolibrary. org to sign up for a time slot at a location near you.
Located on the historic Chisholm Trail, the Express Clydesdale Ranch in Yukon is home to a team of gentle giants. Enjoy a FREE visit to the barn, originally built in 1936, to pet the Clydesdales, watch their training and grooming and more. Schedule your FREE visit Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at expressclydesdales. com/tours (call if you have a group larger than 20 people).
After a 4-year hiatus, Oklahoma’s largest air show is back with fan favorites, the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels and the USAF F-35 Single Ship Demo, returning as the headlining performers for the free two-day show on July 1 and 2. For several decades, Tinker Air Force Base has hosted some form of an airshow event, giving hundreds of thousands of visitors an opportunity to peek inside Oklahoma’s largest single-site employer.
Serving as a free open house for the base, the air show invites families to learn more about the military and potential careers in the aerospace industry, which has grown to become our state’s second-largest industry.
“This is our chance to thank the community and provide an opportunity for people to come on base to learn about what goes on, to kind of pull back the curtain, if you will,” said Chris Moler, the air show’s director of community partnerships. “We are so excited to welcome everyone back!”
In addition to a full slate of entertaining, high-flying acts, STEM will once again be at the forefront of this year’s free community event. Dubbed STEM City, an airplane hanger will be filled with a variety of hands-on activities for kids ages 5 through high school. They can engage with drone tech, robotics, LEGOs, snap circuits and more while exploring potential career opportunities.CUOMO. PHOTOS PROVIDED.
“We want to encourage kids to get involved in the field of aerospace, whether in the private or public sector,” said Moler. “[STEM City] is designed to excite kids and encourage them to learn more about the many jobs available that require a STEM-related education.”
Other educational opportunities include a mobile movie theater showing films about the Tuskegee Airmen, the first Black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps, as well as the Women Airforce Service Pilots, WASP, who served in World War II. Attendees can also walk inside an E-3 Sentry AWACS, explore a full-scale E-7 exhibit of the Air Force’s new global defense plane and get an up-close look at the Blue Angels’ C-130J Super Hercules and other static exhibits.
Stand-out air acts include a World War II reenactment by Tora, Tora, Tora, including the famous “Wall of Fire;” the USAF Wings of Blue Parachute Team; Jelly Belly Comedy Air Act; Matt Younkin and his Twin Beech aerobatic air act; T-33 demo flight; Tuskegee Airman Red Tail P-51; Adam Baker and his Extra 300 aerobatic air act and more.
Admission, parking and shuttles are free, but Moler advises families to arrive early. The event is always very popular and the gates will close when capacity is reached. Gates open at 8 a.m. and aerial demonstrations begin at 11 a.m. All acts are expected to perform each day but the order of performers may change. Both shows will end with the Blue Angels.
Attendees are encouraged to park at Building 9001, formerly the old General Motors Plant, off SE 74th Street. Shuttle buses will run continuously throughout both days. Most of the attractions are free to enjoy with the exception of a VIP area, the Flight Club Line and the Kidz Zone. Flight Club Line tickets start at $149 and a wristband for the Kidz Zone costs $20.
Important tips to help you enjoy your day at the air show:
• Download the air show app to access important information including a parking and event map. AF Connect is available at the App Store and Google Play.
• If you can’t take it on a plane, you can’t bring it on the base. Visitors will have to go through a security checkpoint before boarding the shuttle buses or entering the event area.
• No smoking or vaping is allowed.
• Coolers are not permitted. Vendors will have beverages for sale and water will be available free of charge. Small diaper bags and purses are permitted.
• Hearing protection is important for everyone but especially for infants and children.
• Bring sunscreen and/or a hat because shade is limited.
• Blankets, lawn chairs and strollers are permitted. Seating is not provided.
• ATMs will be available on-site.
• Guests with wheelchairs, strollers or wagons are encouraged to enter through the Hruskocy or Lancer Gates.
To learn more, visit tinkerairshow.org or tinker.af.mil/TinkerAirShow.AERIAL COMEDY ACT JELLY BELLY, FLOWN BY KENT PEITSCH (ABOVE) FIND THE KIDZ ZONE AT THE NORTH END OF THE TARMAC.
Taste the Rainbow
Healthy summertime recipes the whole family will loveBY ERIN PAGE . PHOTOS PROVIDED.
The blue of the summertime sky, green of the soft grass and yellow of the hot sun mark the colors of the season. All those vibrant shades in the world around you may just inspire your family to add more colors to your diet during this time of active fun! If the idea of incorporating more fruits and veggies makes your kids (or even you!) turn up their noses, try these brand new seasonal recipes loaded with delicious, bright flavors — plus some sneaky high-nutrition ingredients that pack a healthy punch.
BREAK FOR BREAKFAST
Start your family’s day with a breakfast to power all those summertime activities. Or, whip up one of these smoothies as a refreshing afternoon treat. The yummy taste and fun colors make these smoothies a win with kids, and you can feel extra good about the added nutrients from the fruit and veggies, plus the protein to keep family energy high.
Peanut Butter Banana Spinach Smoothie
• 2 handfuls fresh spinach
• 2 medium-sized ripe bananas, frozen
• 2 tablespoons peanut butter
• 1 1/2 cups milk of choice
• 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
Mango Carrot Smoothie
• 1 cup fresh shredded carrots
• 1/2 cup frozen mango
• 1/4 cup orange juice
• 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
• 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Choose your flavor combination from the list above. Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth.
2. Check the consistency. If you prefer your smoothie thicker, add ice. If you prefer your smoothie thinner, add more milk or water.
Find even more smoothie variations at shapeyourfutureok.com/recipe-categories/ breakfast
DINNER ON THE DOUBLE
After a long day in the sun, a hearty, balanced dinner will ensure your crew can rest well and take on the next day’s adventures at full throttle. Bonus: you don’t have to spend hours in a hot kitchen to achieve healthy fare the kids will actually eat. Invite aspiring kid chefs into the kitchen to help with preparations and talk about how each of the ingredients serves to benefit our bodies and awaken our taste buds.
Healthier Hamburger Helper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, grated or finely chopped
1 lb. ground turkey
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
8-10 ounces whole wheat elbow macaroni
3 cups beef broth
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Easy Lemon Pasta
• 1 stick unsalted butter
• 1 lb. whole wheat spaghetti
• 2 tablespoons garlic powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 cup reserved pasta water
• 3 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon lemon zest
• 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
• 1 package of chicken sausage
• 1/2 cup of grape tomatoes, halved
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions in a large pot. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. Set aside.
2. In the same pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add garlic, salt and pepper. Stir for 1 minute or until garlic is fragrant.
3. Add the spaghetti back into the pot with the lemon juice and lemon zest. Stir in 3/4 cup of the reserved pasta water and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Toss to coat. Add more pasta water if needed.
4. Slice the chicken sausages, then cook in a skillet over medium heat until they are heated through.
5. Remove the lemon pasta from the pot. Add the vegetable oil to the same pot. Add grape tomatoes and cover with a lid. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook the tomatoes for 3-4 minutes, occasionally stirring until they darken in color.
6. Top the pasta with the sausages, tomatoes and remaining parmesan cheese.
1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onion and carrot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Add ground turkey, breaking it up into small crumbles. Cook until browned. Stir in salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and tomato paste and cook for 30 seconds. Add soy sauce, spinach, pasta and beef broth.
3. Cover and bring to a simmer. Cook until pasta is tender, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the liquid fully evaporates before the pasta is cooked, stir in an additional 1/2 cup of broth or water.
4. Remove the lid; stir in the yogurt and cheese until melted.
From long-time OKC favorites and top trends in family fun to close-to-home travel destinations and boredom busters, check out these 100 ideas to make your summer extra bright!BY ERIN PAGE . PHOTOS PROVIDED. THE HIGHLIGHTED LISTINGS IN THIS ARTICLE REPRESENT PAID PARTNERS.
OKC Staples & Favorites
1 Visit your local library! Both the Metropolitan and Pioneer library systems are hosting summer reading challenges, story times, family programming and much more all summer long.
2 Take a hike ... at night! Go on a Park After Dark nature walk at Martin Park Nature Center on May 6 or Aug. 5 to hear and see nocturnal animals that only come out when the lights are out.
3 Enjoy nostalgic family fun at a local drive-in movie theater.
4 Commemorate the 100th birthday of Civil Rights activist Clara Luper with music by the OKC Phil at the Clara Luper Centennial concert on May 13.
5 Giddy up cowboy and head to the Chuck Wagon Festival at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum on May 27-28.
100 Days of WILD Summer Fun
Enjoy drop-in art the third Saturday of May and June from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Activities help family members of all ages connect to the exhibits on display and explore their creativity. Kids ages 17 and under always get in FREE!
Learn about influential Oklahomans at the Oklahoma Hall of Fame’s FREE Summer Thursdays. Every Thursday in June and July, enjoy story time, crafts and games, plus explore the museum exhibits. Activities begin at 10 a.m. and continue throughout the day.
Enjoy Indigenous art, music, activities and programs at the annual Red Earth Festival on June 1-3 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
Watch Shakespeare ... under the stars! Giggle and grin watching romantic comedy Much Ado About Nothing, performed by Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park June 8-18 in the Paseo District.
Experience turn-of-the-century territorial Oklahoma at the Harn Homestead during their Picnic on the Prairie event on June 17.
Celebrate Juneteenth, marking the official end of slavery in the United States on June 19, 1865. Find a family event near you at metrofamilymagazine. com/celebrate-juneteenth-okc.
Celebrate all the best in #okcfamilyfun at MetroFamily’s Kids Fest! Join us at Rose State College on Saturday, June 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Get your tickets at metrofamilymagazine.com/kidsfest 10
Brush up on your angling skills with OKC Parks’ Hooked on Fishing lessons, happening on select Saturdays all summer long. Kids ages 5-15 can sign up at okc.gov/parksignup
16 Schedule a tour of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Eagle Aviary, home to injured eagles that cannot be returned to the wild. Eagles are an integral symbol of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation culture, revered as warriors and messengers, and a visit to the Eagle Aviary to learn about the birds’ care and cultural significance from their caregivers is a sacred, oncein-a-lifetime experience!
Visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.
Check out the newly renovated Inasmuch Foundation Crystal Bridge Conservatory at Myriad Gardens. Don’t miss the interactive stations along the third-level skywalk or the Discovery Room, which offers new family-friendly activities every month. 11
Explore military history and vehicles at the FREE 45th Infantry Museum.
Sign up for Vacation Bible School! Churches around the metro host the free events throughout the summer, including New Covenant UMC’s FREE Keeper of the Kingdom VBS June 26-29, where kids ages 4 through fifth grade will enjoy crafts, games, songs and more. Check out metrofamilymagazine.com/vacationbible-school-guide for all the options.
Celebrate all things red, white and blue at Edmond’s LibertyFest, with events held from June 14 through July 4. Catch the iconic parade and fireworks show, both held on Independence Day.
Experience explosive fun, watch weather come to life and examine electrifying experiments during Science Live! shows at Science Museum Oklahoma. 21
Spend a day strolling through Bricktown. Ride the Bricktown Water Taxi, play a round of mini golf at Brickopolis Entertainment, catch an OKC Dodgers game at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, bowl a strike at Dust Bowl Lanes and Lounge, visit the American Banjo Museum and much more!
Head to the Oklahoma State Capitol to see where Oklahoma laws are made. Stop by the museum to learn about the history of the building. Don’t forget to look up to admire the sculpture of The Guardian by Enoch Kelly Haney (Seminole) atop the dome!
OKC is alive with The Sound of Music! Catch Lyric Theatre’s production of this Rodgers and Hammerstein family favorite June 27 through July 2. Featuring a 75-member cast, live orchestra and Canterbury Voices, don’t miss the chance to “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” this summer.
Take a trip to Africa ... at the OKC Zoo! Expedition Africa, opening this summer, will feature Zoo favorites, like giraffes and the African Painted Dogs, in addition to species brand new to the Zoo. Enjoy views of the African savanna and naturalistic animal habitats across 12 acres, the largest Zoo expansion to date! 25
Celebrate the end of summer at Yukon’s annual Red Dirt music festival: Rock the Route! Held Aug. 31, the FREE concert features family activities and food trucks in addition to a variety of performances.
New & Trending Things to Do
Challenge your family to a friendly game of basketball, pickleball or futsal at the new courts in the southern section of Scissortail Park.
Take part in the FREE oNE OKC block party celebrating Northeast OKC on May 5-7 at Washington Park. Enjoy live entertainment, food trucks, vendors, kids’ activities, volunteer opportunities and more.
Take a FREE family yoga class! In celebration of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, classes will be held May 13 and June 17 at Bikram Yoga Studio. Ages 4 and up are welcome.
Discover why OKC was named the No. 1 city for street art by USA Today in 2022! Download MetroFamily’s Street Art Scavenger Hunt to explore some of the city’s most well-known public art at metrofamilymagazine.com/ street-art-scavenger-hunt.
Catch the final days of the exhibit The Art of Food at Oklahoma Contemporary, where admission is always FREE, before it closes on May 22. Plus, make plans to enjoy FREE Second Saturday family fun in June and July.
Check out the new First Americans Museum on the third Sunday of the month when kids ages 4 to 12 get in FREE for AT&T Sundays.
Learn about the legacy of Oklahoma native son Charlie Christian, a key figure in the development of jazz and bebop music. Then, head to the Charlie Christian International Music Festival June 1-3 at Oklahoma City Community College for family fun, food and music by local and nationally-noted artists. Bring your lawn chairs!
33 Spend a day in nature learning about plants, bugs, soil and more at the Myriad Gardens’ new Children’s Gardening Fair June 3-4.
Experience the depths of the rainforest ... right here in the metro! Climb a giant spider web, zip along a butterfly monorail, swing on rope vines, reenact the sounds of rain and discover the diverse inhabitants that live in the rainforest in Sam Noble Museum’s Rainforest Adventure exhibit, open through June 4.
35 Climb to new heights at Threshold Climbing Gym.
Enjoy the immersive art experience SYNESTHESIA at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman before it closes on June 4. Admission is FREE!
Catch a flick at the deadCenter Film Festival, June 8-11.
Mark National Selfie Day on June 21 with a tour downtown to find your family’s favorite selfie spot. Find our suggestions at metrofamilymagazine. com/family-photo-backdrops-okc.
45 Celebrate Pride Month at the OKC Pride Fest Parade, Family Zone and Pridefest weekend at Scissortail Park June 23-25.
Dive into the science of osteology at SKELETONS: Museum of Osteology to see skulls and skeletons from around the world.
See the Blue Angels at the FREE Tinker Air Show on July 1-2! See page 34 for tips to take the family.
Visit the new OKC Parks Willa D. Johnson Recreation Center, opening in July, which includes an indoor pool with lazy river and waterslide, teen lounge with esports and gaming area and a teaching kitchen for cooking classes.
49 Watch the sunset from atop the Wheeler Ferris Wheel.
Cap off your summer of fun at the Fireflight Balloon Fest in Shawnee on Aug. 11-12 with balloon launches, a kids’ zone, splash pad and the magical evening balloon glow.
Annual Chuck Wagon Festival May 27 & 28 Summer Drop-In Activities July 3 – 28, Monday – Friday National Day of The Cowboy July 22
Oklahoma City, OK 73111
Close-to-home Travel Destinations
Don’t miss the annual cooking of an 850-pound fried onion burger during El Reno’s Fried Onion Burger Day on May 6!
Encounter penguins, rhinos, giraffes, otters, lorikeets, monkeys and much more at Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Wichita, Kan. Just 2.5 hours from the metro, the park offers unique opportunities to get up close and personal with exotic and endangered animals to learn how humans can impact conservation. Find out how you could WIN a “Best Day Bundle” to visit the park on page 6!
Go horseback riding with Sequoyah Riding Stables through the variety of wooded and open trails in Sequoyah State Park in Hulburt.
54 Experience Tulsa’s The Gathering Place, named the best city park in the nation. Discover 66.5 acres of unique playgrounds, climbing structures, trails, boat rentals, restaurants, outdoor family programs and much more. Check out page 6 to see how you could WIN a trip to Tulsa this summer!
While in Tulsa, experience the powerful story and legacy of Black Wall Street in Tulsa’s Historic Greenwood District with stops at Greenwood Rising, the Greenwood Cultural Center and John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park.
Dig for selenite crystals at the Great Salt Plains near Jet, the only place you can do so in the world! Get tips for your trip at metrofamilymagazine. com/digging-great-salt-plains
57 Rent a dune buggy or ATV to scale the 1,600 acres of sand dunes in Little Sahara State Park near Waynoka.
58 Take a road trip to visit one of the four children’s museums in the state – including Science Museum Oklahoma’s CurioCity right here in OKC, Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum in Seminole, Discovery Lab in Tulsa and Leonardo’s Children’s Museum in Enid.
59 Cool off by visiting a cave or go wild on a spelunking adventure. Find our faves at metrofamilymagazine.com/ caves-to-explore
If your cave touring takes you to Alabaster Caverns, head just 30 minutes southwest to Boiling Springs State Park, where, you guessed it, you can see a boiling spring! Enjoy the swimming pool, fishing and golf onsite as well.
Head to Arcadia to see the Round Barn and enjoy a meal at Pops.
Sleep in a yurt at Natural Springs State Park.
100 Days of WILD Summer Fun
arts and craft vendors, tractor pull and culinary contests.
watermelon-themed activities and seedspitting contest!
Registration is now OPEN for our Summer Camps, classes and programs. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to be the first to know about our upcoming events.
FREE Outdoor Education Programs to help you learn how to enjoy the outdoors safely!
FREE Programs for the whole family!
Seed Swaps, Pollinator Education, DIY Planting, and MORE!
Coding, Science, Magic, Athletics, Music and MORE! Half and Full Day programs for all ages!
For more information and REGISTRATION, visit our website: www.edmondparks.com
Vote in MetroFamily’s annual Family Favorites contest to crown the best in local businesses, attractions and organizations. Each time you do, you’ll be entered for a chance to WIN a staycation to Tulsa! Vote daily through May 17 at metrofamilymagazine.com/vote
77 Volunteer as a family at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. Find family volunteer opportunities across the metro at metrofamilymagazine.com/familyvolunteer-opportunities.
Build a blanket fort!
Sign up for a local summer camp, like Camp Cadence! Held at Cadence Equestrian Center with weekly options from June through early August, campers ages 6-17 learn about horse care and enjoy riding lessons in a safe environment. Find summer camp options to fit your child’s interests at metrofamilymagazine.com/ summer-camps
Enter for a chance to WIN the best summer ever with prize experiences from the Gaylord Texan and Tanganyika Wildlife Park, as well as toys and games like Paddlesmash, Gel Blasters and so much more! Enter our Ultimate Summer Fun contest daily from May 19 through June 19 at metrofamilymagazine.com/contests.
Take a hike, ride your bikes or go on a nature walk along the 13 miles of trails around Edmond’s Arcadia Lake. The trails are open daily from sunrise to sunset.
Visit a locally owned bookstore such as Nappy Roots, Full Circle, Commonplace Books or Best of Books, many of which host weekly story times.
Enjoy the best of locally grown produce and foods by visiting the Edmond Farmers Market on Saturdays. Find a full list of our favorite local markets at metrofamilymagazine.com/ farmers-markets.
92 Break out the glow sticks for a twilight family walk.
After visiting a farmers market or local pick-your-own farm, create a meal with your finds. Get healthy summer recipe inspiration from Shape Your Future Oklahoma on page 36.
Check out an audiobook from your local library and listen as a family.
Sign up for swim lessons. Find the best metro options, including survival swim lessons and Parent-Tot classes through locally owned Oklahoma Swim Academy, at metrofamilymagazine. com/swimming-lessons.
Enjoy a summertime outdoor concert or movie. Find the metro’s seasonal line-up at metrofamilymagazine.com/ outdoor-movies-concerts
Grab a cool treat from a shaved ice stand. Find local hot spots to enjoy cool treats at metrofamilymagazine. com/places-to-find-cool-treats-in-okc
Conduct science experiments with items you already have on hand at home. Visit metrofamilymagazine.com/ simple-science to get started.
Plan a backyard campout or go camping at a state park.
Incentivize the kids to complete their summer chores with the promise of a trip to locally owned The Learning Tree Toys, Books & Games, where, based on age, interest and budget, the sales team can recommend just the right products for allowance spending.
Get away, together. Unwind and reconnect with those who matter most. Our water park, soaring atrium, family-friendly activities, and a spa will help you relax and make more memories together. Book your stay today.
A Wild Family Adventure
Close to Home!
Close-to-home getaway experiences are invaluable to our family of littles. Road trips provide the perfect balance between the desire to get away and the experience of an actual vacation, not just a “trip.” Just 2.5 hours north of OKC, Wichita, Kan. provides unforgettable adventure for your family’s next vacation!
SPONSORED BYBY KIRSTEN HOLDER. PHOTOS PROVIDED.
What child wouldn’t love to feed a lemur, play games with a giraffe, talk to a rhino or pet a penguin? Tanganyika Wildlife Park is located just 20 minutes west of downtown Wichita and was founded under the premise that if people can have close encounters with animals, they will be more likely to care about conservation.
Tanganyika is a family-owned and operated park. It was established at its current location in Goddard, Kan. in 1985 as a place to care for rare and endangered animals. In the early 2000s, the Fouts family decided to open their 51 acres to touring visitors. They have been operating as a large-scale zoo since 2008, and they currently have 40 exhibits featuring 10 interactive stations, more than 400 animals and 37 successful breeding programs.
Tanganyika keepers have hand-crafted 15 “animal feeding encounters and experiences” within the park, including meeting lemurs, lorikeets, otters, pygmy hippos, small cats and more. Each experience can be selected as an add-on to admission or included in a “best day bundle” for your family.
While it is recommended to visit the park during the warmer months so your family can see all the amazing animals, Tanganyika makes a great destination any time of the year as many of the animal experiences are indoors. Our family visited during an unusually cold spring day. These experiences are memorable for any age — our young kids (and their parents!) thoroughly enjoyed them all!
The Africa/Asian Barn
Upon entering the barn, you are immediately greeted by legs. Lots of legs! Once you become reoriented, your gaze follows those legs up to the highest heights where you find the sweetest, kindest eyes you’ve ever seen. Many of us haven’t been close enough to a giraffe to really take in the full scope of how tall they are. Male giraffes can grow up to 18 feet!
During this experience, you move up to the second level of the barn, where you can be eye-level with even the tallest giraffes. The keepers handed out heads of lettuce that we hand-fed to each giraffe after they “booped” a red balloon! The keepers were quick to mention that if any animal in their park doesn’t feel comfortable participating in a training game or feeding exercise, they are never
We were all encouraged to be gentle, move slowly and take the animals’ lead. During this experience, we also met a warthog and several kinds of monkeys with their precious babies.
When you think of a rhino, does a puppy immediately come to mind? For us it didn’t, but the keepers assured us that many of their rhinos have very similar personalities!
We were also delighted to learn that each of the white rhinos within the Safari Barn are named after characters from “The Office.” Our favorite, Dwight, was certainly puppy-like, enjoying getting pats and being hand-fed alfalfa. He whined when we moved away from his enclosure, begging us to come back to give him more attention. Of course this stole our hearts!
The keepers informed us that the last thing you would want to do is approach a 5,000 pound rhino when they are about to spar. As if on cue, two male rhinos began to bash each other, even drawing small bits of blood, while the females hardly turned their heads. Did I imagine it, or did they roll their eyes?!
Penguin Meet & Greet
If you thought penguins were all prim and proper, think again. Getting to meet these little balls of personality was truly the icing on the cake of the day. “OG,” named after her orange and green tag, came barreling out of the door and into our viewing room, bursting with confidence and curiosity. We played with her using cat toys on a string, and when she snatched and broke a toy off the string, she strutted away with pride.
The keepers talked to us about the penguin lifecycle, feather markings, how they stay warm in frigid temperatures and so much more. It was a question-led discussion, which kept all the kids in the room hanging on each word. At the end we all got to pet the oil-slicked top coat feathers of OG, and she obliged us with a photo as well.
The keepers described the penguins in their care as a cross between a toddler and a cat, which was a perfectly accurate explanation of our experience with these flightless birds! Tanganyika also offers amazing “swim with the penguin” experiences; however with two littles in tow, we decided to stay on dry land.
Visiting Tanganyika is easily a full-day event. Each reserved animal experience lasts about an hour, and there is more than enough to do between bookings. There are 15 animal exhibits, three interactive areas and eight feeding stations total, five of which are included in regular park admission. Planning your visit is just a matter of prioritizing which animals you would like to see first!
If visiting during the warmer months, check out the Tanganyika Falls Splash Park. This jungle gym and splash pad combination is the perfect place to cool off and recharge after walking around the park. Next to the splash park are picnic tables (for those who opt to bring their own food and snacks) as well as park restaurant Luna’s Canteen. The Thirsty Sloth sells adult beverages such as tap beer, margaritas and sangria. We recommend packing snacks, water bottles, water shoes, sunscreen and hats.
Enter for your chance to WIN!
Ready to have your own WILD experience at Tanganyika Wildlife Park?! Enter our “Best Day Ever” at Tanganyika Wildlife Park Contest through May 16 for your chance to win the “Best Day Bundle,” which comes with admission for four, unlimited animal feeding opportunities, your choice of two Wildly Different Experiences and a souvenir cup for unlimited refills of fountain drinks and slushies from Luna’s Canteen, a value of more than $700!
Enter at metrofamilymagazine.com/contests.
The full range of experiences are open to those 8 years and older and a more limited number of experiences will be available to those ages 3 to 7. Children under the age of 16 must have an adult participant with them.
Lodging & Local Eats
Vacation rental homes are usually ideal for our family with two small children who have early bedtimes. Airbnb highlights several affordable craftsman bungalows in College Hill, a community just east of downtown. This beautiful, historic neighborhood has many walkable amenities like a park, restaurants, shops and ice cream cafes. Tanganyika also has an Airbnb on site.
If local boutique hotels are more desirable, Wichita offers several, including The Ambassador, The Hotel at Old Town and the Drury Hotel. All three are located downtown and offer walkable amenities and fun eats.
For families of early risers, check out HomeGrown for brunch. Started by a husband and wife team under the motto “if we help each other start the day right, we’re certain we will also awaken a chain of positive acts that cultivate kindness throughout our community,” the concept has now grown to six locations throughout Kansas.
The restaurant serves up fun dishes to entertain the kid in all of us, including homemade pop tarts, carrot cake pancakes and cinnamon swirl French toast. For the breakfast traditionalists, there are also mouth-watering staples on the menu.
For lunchtime, visit Public at the Brickyard in Old Town for a mix of a pub feel for the parents but with a menu and space accommodating of kids. The indoor-outdoor space leaves room for little ones to stretch, and the eclectic antiques on the walls are a source
of constant amusement. The menu features brew pub eats with kids’ items such as the “Lunch-a-Boat,” which includes a fruit, cheese and veggie assortment.
Wichita is a close-to-home treasure with a laid-back pace and midwestern values. Our experiences at Tanganyika Wildlife Park left us feeling grateful for time together to interact with nature and create memories to last a lifetime.
Editor’s note: Tanganyika Wildlife Park is one of the largest familyowned zoos in the country and the third largest animal collection in Kansas. The park is accredited by the Zoological Association of America and its primary goal is the conservation of animals through helping visitors improve their connection with the wonders of the animal world to encourage stewardship and education and being one of the premier facilities for breeding endangered species. Learn more at twpark.com
Through MetroFamily blogs Hashtag Parenting and Weekend Warrior, local parents share their favorite things to do and discuss the everyday issues closest to their hearts. Check out clips from some of our favorite recent blogs by YOU our parent community — use the QR code to read these blogs in full.
Go on an indoor safari, create a family band, become top chefs: local mom and journalist Mecca Rayne pulls out all the stops in sharing 3 at-home ideas for creative family fun.
“‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.’ Books give us a chance to see other points of view and understand others better.”
Local mom Christina Mushi-Brunt shares 3 actionable tips for parents in light of heated book ban discussions, plus how reading “controversial” books has shaped her for the better.
“The summer between Rex’s PreK and kindergarten years was one of the hardest seasons of my life. I knew in my gut something wasn’t right. I discovered Rex was allergic to synthetic dyes.”
Mom of two Tabbi Burwell shares 5 family-friendly breweries to check out in 2023.
Kay Robinson, mom of our March/April Cover Kid, Rex, explains how food dyes affected her son’s behavior, relives their journey to becoming a dye-free household and shares a list of dye-free snack options.
“While Oklahoma may have more than 70 breweries across the state, seeking out breweries where kids are welcome and entertained may feel daunting.”
“The key to entertaining your kids is to remember what it was like to be a kid! Imagination is everything.”
Piano Lessons - Drum Lessons - Acting Classes Lessons - Drum Lessons - Acting Classes
Piano Lessons - Drum Lessons
-C Wonka Hurricane Diana
Godspell - Clue - Wizard of Oz
Willy Wonka - Hurricane Diana
Godspell - Clue - Wizard of Oz
Willy Wonka - Hurricane Diana
SumMer at The Cowboy
Kids Take over The Cowboy
First Saturday of the Month
10:00 a.m. – Noon with Storytime at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m.
Enjoy activities organized especially for kids relating to current events or the Museum’s latest exhibitions.
May 6 • ARToons
June 3 • Desert Life
Free for members or with Museum admission. Activities available while supplies last.
Sensory Play Date
May 16, June 20 • 10:00 a.m. – Noon
Join us for sensory-friendly playtime and learn a dance geared toward all people with all abilities under the instruction of Aspiring Attitudes dance instructors.
Free for members or with Museum admission.
Heritage Table: Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Every day in May
Aloha! Paniolos (Hawaiian cowboys) have been ranching long before ranches began in North America. Learn about paniolos heritage and be introduced to Ikua Purdy! Create a 3-D hibiscus flower and discover what it means to “live in Aloha” by watching the Museum’s short feature film, Walk in Beauty
Free for members or with Museum admission.
Heritage Table: imMigrant heritage month
Every day in June
Learn about the diverse immigrant heritage stories that are told at The Cowboy and that make up the West as we know it. Create a Passport to the West to guide you through Museum galleries to learn about the stories of those who came to the West. Free for members or with Museum admission.