MetroFamily Magazine May June 2024

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MAY/JUNE 2024

100 ideas for a season of #okcfamilyfun Skate into Summer

All Aboard!

Roll down to Fort Worth on the Heartland Flyer

Rad Dads & Mama Mavens

Local gift ideas for Mother’s Day & Father’s Day

Encouraging Healthy Living for the Next Generation

The TSET Healthy Youth Initiative empowers Oklahoma’s youth to adopt healthier lifestyles through tobacco cessation, nutrition education and physical activity programs.

Health in schools Tobacco cessation Vaping cessation Rural tobacco prevention Youth-led program Vaping prevention Obesity prevention Tobacco prevention

Beef’s Nutrients Support Adolescent Girls and Women’s Health

Iron-deficiency anemia is on the rise in the United States, disproportionately affecting adolescent girls and adult females. 3

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recognize that lean meats, including beef, help nourish at every life stage. 1

Research suggests that as U.S. consumption of iron-rich food declines, especially beef consumption, prevalence of iron-deficiency anemia increases, particularly in females.3

As part of a healthy diet, beef helps close nutrient gaps in vulnerable populations by providing essential nutrients, including iron, protein zinc, vitamins B12 and B6, and choline.1,2

1. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 2020.

2. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019. fdc.nal.usda. gov. (NDB for beef #13364, NDB for egg #01332, NDB for chicken breast #05064, NDB for pork #10093)

3. Sun H, Weaver CM. Decreased Iron Intake Parallels Rising Iron Deficiency Anemia and Related Mortality Rates in the US Population. J Nutr. 2021;151(7):1947-1955. doi:10.1093/jn/nxab064

4. Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc : a Report of the Panel on Micronutrients. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2001.

Go to BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com for great beef recipes.

FEMALE IRON REQUIREMENTS INCREASE STARTING IN ADOLESCENCE Male Female Iron Requirements (Per Day) Age 10MG 8MG 11MG 15MG 18MG 8MG 4-8yr9-13yr14-18yr 19-50

ON THE COVER

Brothers Mason and Aiden are the sons of MetroFamily’s awardwinning travel writer and photographer

Debbie Murnan and her husband, Patrick. The family enjoys chasing adventures, exploring, hiking, trying new restaurants, dancing

4 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024 Features 10 OH, BABY! Cue the heart eyes for our Cutest Baby Photo Contest winners CELEBRATING AWESOME MOMS Meet the inspiring winner and finalists of our annual contest 14 RAD DADS & MAMA MAVENS Local gift ideas for Mother’s Day & Father’s Day 16 NAVIGATING ENHANCED FOSTER CARE One local family’s meaningful story 18 INSPIRATIONAL FIRST AMERICANS Meet composer and Indigenous music ambassador Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate 36 METROFAMILY’S ULTIMATE SUMMER FUN GUIDE Check out top spots in the metro and nearby travel destinations 38 SEASONAL SNACK BOARDS FOR THE WIN! Healthy, hassle-free hacks for family mealtimes made easy 2024 SUMMER SAFETY GUIDE Essential tips for OKC families to safeguard summer fun Departments 6 CONNECT WITH METROFAMILY Take advantage of our top seasonal resources 20 MOM TALK The sandwich generation: the realities of caring for children and aging parents 22 CALENDAR OF EVENTS Frugal family fun and festivals worth the drive 37 NEW & NOW 4 newsworthy happenings for families 42 LOCAL FAMILY FUN Explore 100 days of summer adventures EXPLORING BEYOND OKLAHOMA All aboard the Heartland Flyer to Fort Worth 62 LAST LOOK A tribute to a mother’s strength 58 12 40
PHOTO BY RAGAN FRANKLIN
and volunteering.
Contents
PHOTO BY FOTO ARTS PHOTOGRAPHY

May marks the end of the school year, unofficial start of summer, Mother’s Day and graduation celebrations — and it’s also National Foster Care Awareness Month. I have been reporting on the state of foster care in Oklahoma for nearly 10 years, and in that time I’ve learned, I’ve cried and I’ve gained so much empathy for all the parties involved — from the children in foster care and foster parents to the biological families and hard-working staff at Oklahoma Human Services.

About the time I began reporting on foster care, Oklahoma Human Services enacted the Pinnacle Plan, which completely revamped the entire foster care system to streamline processes; engage nonprofit agencies in helping recruit, train and support foster families; and enact more preventative measures to support families proactively, safely reducing the need for child welfare services. The direction of forward-thinking leaders like current director Dr. Deb Shropshire and former director Justin Brown spearheaded these efforts, but that can-do attitude has been evident throughout the department amongst administrators, case workers and staff.

And yet our state finds itself again in a crisis with more children in care than our current qualified foster homes can handle. Let me emphasize: this is clearly not for lack of ongoing hard work by Oklahoma Human Services and their staff.

The number of children in care is smaller than it was 10 years ago. But the needs of those children are more acute. Of the just over 6,000 kids in care as of March 1, more than 520 children qualified for Enhanced Foster Care (EFC). As you’ll read about on page 16, EFC serves children who have experienced significant trauma and who have unique behavioral and mental health challenges. EFC also offers support to their foster families.

In addition, in Oklahoma County, more than 48 percent of children in foster care were placed out of county as of March 1. More than 26 percent of those children were placed in a county that didn’t border their home county, making family time with their parents, siblings and other relatives extremely difficult. If we had more foster families in every community across the state, that would increase the possibility that children could be kept close to home and in the same foster home as their siblings. As of March 1, more than 100 siblings in Oklahoma County were separated.

Finally, we have fewer families stepping up to provide respite, healing and hope. In the midst of this season’s chaos and family fun planning, will you consider whether becoming a foster family could be a fit for you? Or how you can directly support foster families?

When we join together, we can create brighter futures for all our children.

2023 2023 2023 2023 2023 2023 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024 5
MetroFamily Magazine is published bimonthly. Copyright 2024 by MetroFamily HoldCo, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Articles and advertisements in MetroFamily do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the magazine or MetroFamily HoldCo, LLC. We do not assume responsibility for statements made by advertisers or editorial contributors. The acceptance of advertising by MetroFamily does not constitute an endorsement of the products, services, or information. We do not knowingly present any product or service which is fraudulent or misleading in nature. Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Edmond Chamber of Commerce & Midwest City Chamber of Commerce Publisher Sarah Taylor Editorial & Marketing Director Erin Page Digital Editor Lindsay Cuomo Art Director Stacy Noakes Assistant Editor Emiley Bainbridge Account Executive Dana Price Events Director Casey Shupe Operations Director Morgan Harris Content & Account Specialist Renee Filippo Advertising & Distribution Manager Kelli Newsome Contributing Writers Sasha Hughes Christina Mushi-Brunt Contributing Photographer Bridget Pipkin Contact us Mailing address: 6608 N. Western Ave., #458 Oklahoma City, OK 73116 Phone: 405-601-2081 tips@metrofamilymagazine.com metrofamilymagazine.com Proud member of Letter from the Editor With hope, Page Managing Editor Statistics provided by Oklahoma Human Services

Connect with MetroFamily

Your Parenting Playbook for OKC in May & June

Our primary goal at MetroFamily is to make life easier for local parents. Through our bi-monthly magazines, robust website blogs by local parents and exciting events and contests, we seek to tame parent overwhelm and infuse joy into your families.

The best way to get all the family fun and parenting resources from MetroFamily is to sign up for our FREE e-newsletter. You’ll receive bite-sized timely news, top weekend events, info on our contests to win fabulous prizes, seasonal guides and real-life parenting tips straight to your email inbox. Sign up at metrofamilymagazine.com/subscribe 

Find 5 opportunities to learn, have fun, take advantage of local resources and win fantastic prizes from MetroFamily in May and June.

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 find the metro’s top resources for families.

Vote daily May 1 through 15 at metrofamilymagazine.com/ vote. Each time you vote, you’ll be entered for a chance to WIN a family staycation, which includes a two-night stay at The Ellison Hotel, breakfast at Milo and general admission and Wild Encounter tickets to the OKC Zoo!

S A T . J U N E 8 , 2 0 24 7 : 3 0 A . M . – N O O N
P R I N G C R E E K P A R K
I D S A G E S 5 –1 5
R E E E V E N T A RCA DI A LA KE’S
K FISH ING DER
405-216-7471 and worms will be for sale at the event site. Parents must accompany children. 6 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024
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K
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IDS
BY
Family Favorites OKC
O24 metro family 1
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Ultimate Summer Fun!

Enter our Ultimate Summer Fun Contest

When we say summer, you say fun! Enter for your chance to WIN our Ultimate Summer Fun Contest with prizes like a one-night stay at Oklahoma Awesome Adventures with an extended elephant feeding experience, Heartland Flyer round-trip tickets to Fort Worth, tickets to Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Wichita, Kan. and much more! Enter daily from May 15 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 Summer Fun Guides at metrofamilymagazine.com/summer.

fotoartsphotography.com • (405) 326-1533
METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024 7
Seniors Couples Families Events Kids Life
2 3 Saturday, June 1, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mitch Park YMCA 2901 Marilyn Williams Dr, Edmond Hosted by YMCA of Greater OKC and Edmond Parks & Recreation Register here!  Preregister Now! Enjoy a celebration of all things health & wellness! Fun for everyone! metrofamilymagazine.com/thrive-fest
PHOTO BY CARL SHORTT JR.

Why advertise with MetroFamily?

With over 25 years of experience, the team at MetroFamily knows what works to reach local parents who want the best for their kids. We'll help you set and accomplish goals within your budget to engage our active audience.

Contact us today and we'll get you connected to thousands of OKC area active and engaged parents! 405-601-2081 • info@metrofamilymagazine.com
is June
Our next print issue will highlight our reader-selected Family Favorites honorees, as well as special Party Guide and Kids Program sections. Print ad deadline
12.
METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024 9 Contact MetroFamily Magazine today! 405-601-2081 info@metrofamilymagazine.com Let’s Party! Make your child’s celebration extra special with these local businesses. Get our online Party Guide. BEST PARTY SPOT! Unique Party Packages www.jasminemoran.com Get Quote Wedding Cakes Birthday Cakes Holiday Cakes Corporate Cakes LOOKING FOR A CAKE FOR YOUR SPECIAL OCCASION? cupsncakesok.com PARTIES // TOURNAMENTS // OPEN PLAY COOPGAMINGARENA.COM // 405-974-2757 You’ve never had a gaming experience like this. LET’S CELEBRATE! LET’S CELEBRATE! Stop in or call to book your party 9410 N. May Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK, 75120 405-395-2844 NOW OPEN ON SUNDAYS! Party programs that wow every child on their special day

Oh, Baby!

he team at MetroFamily got to “meet” 120 adorable babies through our 2024 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: Peg Perego, SnüzPod, Lansinoh, Bellabu Bear, Oilogic, Pure Enrichment, Leveret, 7AM Enfant, Beli Baby, KeaBabies, Unplug Soy Candles and Heirloom.

Congratulations to our 2024 Cutest Baby Photo Contest winners!

Beatrice, Patrick and William

6 months

These triplets love smiling at each other, listening to music, reading books, swinging and going for walks.

Kashton

6 months

Kashton loves watching Ms. Rachel, eating bananas and playing with his toy giraffe.

Elijah

Eliana

8 months

Eliana likes music, crawling and eating sweet potatoes and bananas.

Jovie

8 months

Jovie loves books, toys that make noise and whatever her big brother is doing.

7 months

Elijah loves to eat sweet potatoes, bananas, peas and yogurt, play in his jumper and look at books.

Crystal

10 months

Crystal loves books, playing with her toy monkey and eating her grandma’s chicken soup.

10 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024

Ronin

1 year

Ronin loves eating bananas and pasta, walking and playing with his toys.

Zayn

2 years

Zayn likes to jump, play and practice running fast.

Bria

2 years

Bria loves to eat chicken and cheese, play with her baby dolls and stuffed puppy dogs and be with her brother.

IBH provides play-based Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) services in natural environments:

• Clinic • School

• Home • Community

Forrest

2 years

Forrest likes dancing, swimming, going to the zoo, being outside and talking to people at the grocery store.

Jackson

3 years

Jackson loves macaroni and cheese, construction toys, soccer and everything related to Paw Patrol

MetroFamily’s next Cutest Baby Photo Contest will be held in February 2025. Subscribe to our free e-newsletter and you’ll be the first to know about this and other contests throughout the year.

To help our clients adjust to a classroom setting, IBH provides replica classrooms, six-stall bathrooms, a full outdoor playground and a school-like schedule so kids can learn to adapt to the changes in routines and activities of a regular school setting.

Integrated Brain Health

ABA Clinic & Occupational Therapy

Serving Oklahoma families for over 13 years and voted a Family Favorite by MetroFamily readers. Family Favorites OKC 2O23 metro family

Call to schedule a tour and to discuss how IBH can provide an individualized treatment plan for your child and family, or an Autism Assessment with a psychologist . Most insurances are accepted.

405-702-9032

IBHealth.co

3838 NW 36th St, Ste 200 Oklahoma City, OK 73112

@integratedbrainhealth
METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024 11

Celebrating

Morethan 60 metro moms were nominated for our annual Awesome Moms contest, and we are inspired by each of their stories. Thanks to everyone who submitted nominations this year! Celebrate the stories of all our nominees by visiting metrofamilymagazine.com/2024-awesome-moms

Thank you to our Awesome Moms prize sponsors: Wyndham Grand Oklahoma City Downtown, The Spa at 10 North, Redrock Canyon Grill, Mama Roja, Hefner Grill and Upper Crust Wood Fired Pizza.

WINNER Tyler Hill

After a turbulent childhood and through a battle with cancer, motherhood is what has given Tyler Hill the strength to transcend life’s trials and provides her ongoing hope.

Tyler was born a survivor. She was born addicted to crack cocaine and immediately placed into state custody. Although she

was soon adopted, her parents divorced when she was 3. She spent the next 11 years experiencing extensive abuse from her adoptive mother and returned to state custody at 14. At 21, Tyler became pregnant.

“I can honestly say … she saved my life,” said Tyler of her daughter.

Tyler’s 13-year-old daughter, Tia, whom she describes as a “fireball,” is neurodivergent. “What I love about her is that she doesn’t identify with the diagnosis,” said Tyler. “She just beats to the rhythm of her own drum.”

Tia plays the trumpet, plays soccer and loves to travel. The two began traveling together following Tia’s fifth birthday party.

“We threw this big party,” recalls Tyler. “At the end of it, she said, ‘I don’t want to do that again.’”

Ever since, the two travel to different parts of the country to celebrate Tia’s birthday. For Tyler, creating memories with Tia is vital because positive memories are glaringly missing from her own childhood.

Tyler also shares the love of her job with Tia. She is the accounting director for Daily Living Centers, a nonprofit adult day services provider in central Oklahoma.

Tia can occasionally be found playing bingo with or serving lunch to those who attend the facility. Tyler and Tia’s strong relationship is apparent to those at the center.

“Tyler always does a tremendous job at work but always makes sure her daughter is [her]

Congratulations to the 2024 Awesome Moms winner and finalists!

number one priority,” wrote Amanda, Tyler’s boss, in her Awesome Moms nomination of Tyler.

Tyler also credits Tia with sparking her hobby as a skilled woodworker. While pregnant, Tyler couldn’t find nursery furniture she liked. Longing for something unique, she bought a crib and restored it.

Tyler started making her own furniture from watching YouTube and virtual woodworking classes and then began teaching classes. Tyler even participated in a nationwide DIY Network online contest and reached the top 10 contestants.

Tyler’s woodworking and her friends have helped her survive difficult circumstances as an adult.

Following a miscarriage, she built herself a bed. However, unlike the dark days of her childhood, she wasn’t alone in this project.

“My friends came over … none of them knew how to use power tools or anything … but they came over to help,” recalls Tyler.

Friends like these are whom Tyler now calls family. They have offered support at every turn. Diagnosed with stage two gastric cancer in 2020, Tyler underwent chemotherapy and radiation all while still building and teaching classes. Now in remission, Tyler still undergoes maintenance chemo treatments.

“Why do I continue to survive and why haven’t I given up? I honestly can say it’s because I am a mom,” said Tyler with conviction. “It’s because of my child that I was put on this Earth.”

wesome MOMS 12 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024

FINALIST

Kristen Chewey

Kristen Chewey leans into her Native American matriarchal culture as a mom and working professional.

“Our mothers, and women in general, are such an important part of forming who we are as people,” said Kristen.

A member of the Cherokee Nation, Kristen’s heritage also includes Muskogee, Lakota and Oklahoma Seminole affiliations. Beyond her personal identity, Kristen’s deep-rooted connection to her roots has shaped her values of compassion and community, evident through her devotion to her family in times of crisis.

When Kristen’s niece’s boyfriend was badly injured in a car accident, Kristen spent weeks attending to the needs of her 8-monthspregnant niece.

“Whenever you’re a mom, you have to mother other mothers,” said Kristen.

When her grandmother entered her final stages of life, Kristen assumed the role of caregiver, honoring her grandmother’s legacy.

“I try to keep it in the spirit of how my grandmother treated us … I think I was just repaying the kindness and love that she gave me,” said Kristen.

The matriarchal thread has also been woven into Kristen’s professional life and desire to

give back to the community.

Kristen is director of institutional research at Rose State College, where she is responsible for data and information technology. She is also a member of Matriarch, a femaleled nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering Native American women. She was recently accepted into Rematriation, a new leadership program for Indigenous women in STEM.

“It’s just amazing to make connections with other Indigenous women who are trailblazing where there aren’t many Indigenous women, especially in higher education,” said Kristen. The program has helped Kristen’s daughters see what it’s like to navigate being a woman of color in spaces where there are few present. As a family, Kristen and her four kids enjoy spending time together watching movies and going to Frontier City. As the matriarch in her own household, Kristen’s legacy of kindness is reflected in her kids.

“Getting compliments [that] your kids are kind and generous people … means more than any award, accolade or achievement I could ever have because they are my greatest achievement,” said Kristen.

health is not just a professional endeavor, it is a personal one.

Stephanie grew up in south OKC. She faced challenges in childhood, including an abusive father and being raised by a single parent who struggled with substance use and mental health. In high school, Stephanie left home.

She connected with a program called Upward Bound, a college preparatory program for first-generation college students. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and is now a counselor at Putnam City High School.

Stephanie’s own experience with homelessness prepared her for her role as homeless liaison for students in her school community, a responsibility she’s extremely passionate about.

FINALIST

Stephanie Boynkin

For high school counselor

Stephanie Boynkin, helping students address their mental

“I help those students who are unaccompanied or between living places with finding resources and planning,” said Stephanie.

In summer 2024, Stephanie will begin the process of earning her licensed professional counselor credentials.

Stephanie credits her and her husband James’ decision to go to college as a pivotal point in her journey as a mom.

“It greatly changed things for us and really opened a world of opportunities,” said Stephanie.

Both survivors of difficult childhoods, Stephanie notes that she and James have worked hard to parent intentionally and prioritize their mental health. They have two children, Michael, 8, and Madelynn, 1. Stephanie’s journey to motherhood was not without challenges, as Michael spent 24 days in the NICU. Then, Stephanie experienced postpartum depression.

“I kept thinking, I’ll get over this … he’s home now,” recalls Stephanie. “Then after a while it was like, OK, I’m not getting over it and I need help.”

Family and community support have been instrumental to Stephanie as a mom. She is grateful that her mother, now sober and healthy, is able to be a part of her children’s lives.

“I remember in high school praying for these things, and now looking back, I’m just so grateful for it,” said Stephanie. “I learned some hard lessons through my past, but it’s made these moments as a mother even more beautiful.”

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024 13

Rad Dads & Mama Mavens

Local gift ideas for Mother’s Day & Father’s Day

It’s the season to show your loved ones how much they mean to you! Find unique gifts for the moms and dads in your life at these local stores. Not only will you discover one-of-a-kind treasures, you’ll also experience personalized attention from local business owners.

ABC Office Furniture

510 W Reno Ave, OKC

405-236-3166

abcofficeok.com

Hard-working moms and dads deserve the comfort of an adjustable, ergonomic office chair. Find a variety of price points and colors at ABC Office Furniture. This out-of-the-box gift idea will be appreciated every day of the year! Stop by their store at Reno & Walker in downtown OKC. Assembly and delivery are available for your convenience.

AJ

MetroFamily Magazine

405-601-2081

metrofamilymagazine.com

Scissortail Gifts

1400 Classen Dr, OKC 405-235-4458

scissortailgifts.com

Scissortail Gifts features over 100 local vendors and a variety of Made in Oklahoma products. Located in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, Scissortail Gifts is the perfect place to shop and support local businesses. One-of-a-kind products perfect for Mother’s Day include candles, body oils and chocolate. For Father’s Day, dad will love custom ties, cufflinks and tasty snacks.

Know a parent or grandparent always looking for fun things to do with their kids or grandkids? Gift them a MetroFamily Insiders membership for just $25 and they’ll receive a 12-month subscription (6 issues) to MetroFamily Magazine, plus other perks such as tickets to MetroFamily events and more. Purchase a gift membership at metrofamilymagazine. com/subscribe.

Mother’s Day

May 12

Father’s Day

June 16

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SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION

Persimmon Hill at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

1700 NE 63rd St, OKC

405-478-2250

persimmonhillstore.com

Oklahoma

Shakespeare in the Park

2920 Paseo, OKC

405-235-3700

okshakes.org

Inside the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, find a curated collection of elevated Western gifts perfect for everyone on your list this spring and summer. From authentic Native American jewelry and clothing to home goods and décor, Persimmon Hill’s wide variety of items will be sure to make mom, dad, grads and grandparents smile. Plus, you can purchase gift memberships to the museum for a full year of family fun!

iJohnny and June

12 NW 9th St, OKC

405-240-9068

johnnyandjuneokc.com

Johnny and June offers fun and unique gifts at their store in downtown OKC. Since 2016, they’ve been handcrafting soy-based candles with a wide selection of unique scents such as Hello Handsome and Wildflower. Find special gifts that reflect your loved ones’ personalities at this eclectic shop.

Give the gift of a special shared experience this Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Tickets to Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park’s upcoming productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth and Hamlet are a perfect way to honor and celebrate your loved one. And you’ll all enjoy a quality performance under the stars in the Paseo District. Individual and season tickets are available at okshakes.org

n vu
METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024 15
SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION

Navigating the World of Enhanced Foster Care

The Kincaids’ story

Cindy and David Kincaid can’t stand the thought of any child feeling unloved or unwanted. As a foster family, they have met the harsh realities of children who’ve endured trauma with love and compassion. With almost a decade of fostering experience, the Kincaid family has opened their hearts and home to more than 40 children, providing a safe haven for kids in need of respite and stability.

After several years of traditional foster care, the Kincaids became Enhanced Foster Care parents, serving children who have experienced profound trauma, abuse or neglect. With the support of their Oklahoma Human Services team and church family, the Kincaids have gained even more than they’ve given.

“This is the most rewarding thing you will ever do,” said Cindy. “You have to be prepared for the ugly, but it is so worth it to get to the beauty of it. These kids are angels that just need someone to care for them.”

What is Enhanced Foster Care (EFC)?

Enhanced Foster Care (EFC) addresses the intricate needs of children facing behavioral, medical, developmental and mental health challenges, offering supports beyond what traditional foster care can provide. The children served typically have undergone deep-rooted trauma.

EFC stabilizes placements for these children within family-based settings while providing the additional assistance and resources necessary for them to heal and thrive. EFC equips foster families like the Kincaids with the tools and wraparound supports integral to navigating these challenges.

“Most of the time, there’s a lot of anger involved,” said Cindy of children in EFC. “They are angry at the world, angry at you and angry at themselves. You have to be prepared to deflect that anger. And EFC gives you the tools and services to help. You have to be prepared to love the kid no matter what.”

Beginning the foster care journey

The Kincaids were inspired to become foster parents after a series of life-altering events. A blended family, they talked briefly about fostering early in their marriage. But then Cindy’s son tragically passed away when he was just 15. A few years later, the Kincaids were unexpectedly asked to adopt a baby boy, a blessing they readily accepted. Then, Cindy’s great-nephew went into custody.

“That was the catalyst,” said Cindy. “We thought our family was complete, but we couldn’t leave him to be raised by strangers.”

After that kinship placement and several years of traditional foster care, the Kincaids felt called to provide a higher level of support through EFC.

“It seemed like nobody wanted these kids,” said Cindy. “You have to have the mindset that these kids come from ugly backgrounds but that doesn’t define them.”

The Kincaids went through Oklahoma Human Services’ intense training program, which focuses on parenting children from trauma and understanding and coping with challenging behaviors.

They have faced their fair share of trials with the children in their care, from verbal and physical aggression to instances of selfharm and property damage. None of those behaviors are surprising considering the levels of abuse, neglect and trauma the children have withstood. Patience and stability are key to helping kids make positive changes.

“They need someone to explain that the way they were raised was not appropriate, that it’s not their fault and that it is going to get better,” said Cindy. “They need to know they are safe.”

Strict routines have been especially important for the children, as are regular counseling appointments, which can even be provided in the home through EFC. Extracurricular activities give them a positive outlet for their energy or aggression.

While any foster family who takes placement of a child who qualifies for EFC may receive services, Cindy recommends families interested in EFC begin with traditional foster care and work their way toward EFC. She cautions parents not to think of themselves as heroes, swooping in to save children, and to understand the challenges that come along with EFC in particular.

“These children are not victims,” said Cindy. “If you give them a victim mentality, they will live in that. They do not have to be a victim of their circumstances. My children are survivors.”

The intricacies of Enhanced Foster Care

The Kincaids are committed to the longterm stability of the children in their care, but they’ve realized sometimes they aren’t the right fit for a child. Twice they’ve asked for a child for whom they could not provide appropriate care to be removed.

Cindy grieves the loss of each child when they leave her home, whatever the circumstances. She also grieves that while some of the children she’s cared for make miraculous recoveries, others will never fully work through the trauma they’ve endured.

“My son came from an absolutely horrible background, but he has done a complete turnaround,” said Cindy. “He’s now a beautiful, Godly man full of charisma and

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SPONSORED

charm. But others continue to struggle, and they are struggles I can’t understand. You can’t love the trauma out of them; you just keep supporting them.”

The Kincaids have adopted five children with plans to adopt two additional children currently in their care. Their older son, adopted at birth, has lived the decade-long fostering journey with his parents, and Cindy and David check in with him regularly to gauge his mental health and emotional capacity.

“It has to be a family effort,” said Cindy. “We’ve always told him when he’s ready or if he is uncomfortable, we will stop. But he always says ‘one more kid’ because he can’t stand to see a child not wanted either. He’s made sacrifices but he’s stronger for it.”

Bridging with biological families

Building relationships with the biological families of the children in EFC can be more challenging because of the trauma the children have undergone. But when it’s safe to do so, preserving the relationship between child and parent can be especially vital to both parties’ healing.

“You have to have empathy because many of these kids have been so damaged and you want to blame the parent, but that’s not your place,” said Cindy. “There are often outside influences. A simple change of fate could put any of us in those situations. You have to step in, even in the most heinous of cases, with a little bit of compassion.”

Cindy and David don’t attend court hearings, an intentional choice they’ve made to distance themselves from the difficult details of the cases. Cindy says that helps them remain focused on the children and allows them to be more straightforward with and supportive of their biological families as they take the court-ordered steps to reunify with their children.

The Kincaids remain in lifelong relationships with about half of the kids who’ve been in their care, hosting them over weekends and providing continued support to their parents or caregivers.

“If the kids can go home, that is my ultimate goal,” said Cindy. “Sometimes with EFC, family ends up not being the best option, but when you can make it work, I love seeing the kids back with their parents or grandparents.”

How you can help

For those who can’t foster themselves, there are plenty of ways to support foster families. Members of the Kincaids’ church provide respite care, meals and clothing for the kids; they also help get kids to appointments and cheer them on at ball games. Most importantly, they have loved the children even when their behaviors have been unlovable.

”The biggest obstacle is humbling yourself enough to ask for help,” said Cindy. “If you’re going to do EFC, you need to have your support system in place first, people who will just notice what you need and step in.”

Learn more about becoming a foster family or supporting foster families at okfosters.org

Editor’s note: This article is part of a series in partnership with Oklahoma Human Services about foster care in our state. Find the full series at metrofamilymagazine.com/ foster-care

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Inspirational First Americans

Meet internationally renowned classical composer and pianist Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate

Jerod Impichchaachaaha’

Tate’s compositions have been commissioned by major North American orchestras, his works are performed throughout the world, he’s won an Emmy and he’s lauded in the Chickasaw Hall of Fame. But his proudest accomplishment is being a dad.

In fact, following this conversation, Tate was performing with the New York Philharmonic and at Carnegie Hall, where his talented 10-year-old son joined him on stage. (Local audiences will recognize Heloha Tate as “Fritz” from the 2023 OKC Ballet production of The Nutcracker.)

Raised steeped in his Chickasaw heritage in Ardmore, Okla., Jerod Tate says he grew up very cosmopolitan, surrounded by theater, ballet and classical music, as well as a family and mentors who supported his ambitions wholeheartedly. Now an American Indian classical composer and pianist who expresses his Native culture in symphonic music, ballet and opera, Tate lives his professional aspirations daily.

His Emmy was earned for his work on the OETA documentary The Science of Composing, and his music was featured on the HBO series Westworld. Tate served as guest composer, conductor and pianist for San Francisco Symphony’s Currents Program and was guest composer for Metropolitan Museum of Art’s program Home with ETHEL and Friends. He was named a 2021 Cultural Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State and is a governor-appointed Creativity Ambassador for the State of Oklahoma.

Besides being a dad, Tate’s favorite gig is teaching the youth composers camp at First Americans Museum. For the past three years, Tate has worked with students to compose original pieces that are then played by professionals with the OKC Philharmonic. Tate also consulted with FAM for many years prior to the museum’s opening and, working with OKC Phil and Native musicians and singers, provided the original music for the grand opening celebration, which he calls “a total dream.”

Though Tate could live anywhere in the world, he remains in Oklahoma because “Oklahoma is home.” He appreciates the artistic opportunities and beautiful tribal community in our state, and he says it’s a wonderful place to raise his son and share in the joys of parenting. “Parenting is a language that binds all of humanity together,” said Tate. “Our love for our children is universal and beautiful.”

We caught up with Tate to learn how his upbringing inspired his career and his love of dad life.

Has music always been a part of your life?

My dad was a special district and tribal judge, who was very involved in American Indian law and politics, and also a trained classical pianist and baritone. He was ridiculously talented, and I grew up with dad singing and playing a classical repertoire. My mother was a professional choreographer and dancer. When I was 9, I began private piano lessons. Three months in, I announced I was to be a concert pianist.

18 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024

What inspired the melding of your loves of music and Chickasaw heritage into a career?

My mom choreographed ballets based on American Indian stories, and she asked me to compose a score — I was 22 at the time. It was such a positive experience, and I was met with great support and enthusiasm from the classical and Native communities. I went back to graduate school and added composition to my degree program. I was encouraged to focus on a career in Native heritage. I announced to my family that I would be a Chickasaw classical composer. It’s funny because I never imagined my Chickasaw identity and my classical identity being woven together until my mom commissioned that work. It clicked in a very beautiful way. My mother was asking me to be all of who I am at the same time.

How has the support you’ve received impacted the way you parent?

I am very aware of how blessed I am to have that support and I am conscious of providing that support to others, too.

My grandmother came out of vocational boarding school in Oklahoma and she took from that a mindset of acquiring knowledge to achieve. She was industrious with finding solutions and learning to help herself — she was the first court stenographer in southern Oklahoma — and she helped her own kids and grandkids have that same mindset.

It has had quite an impact on me when I look at my son and see all his capabilities and wish for him to use them, however that manifests. He has his own super powers and they are different from mine. Our children’s chances of success are magnitudes higher when we help them manifest their talents. We have to be adult learners when our kids have talents we don’t understand. My son is very talented in ballet and horn; he plays in the Oklahoma Youth Orchestra, he studies ballet, he’s an incredible singer and a great visual artist. I lean into it and I learn. I have the advantage of knowing the arts, but if his talents were in robotics or football or restaurant management, I would school myself to be a proper support for him. It’s not that we have to become experts — but it’s my responsibility to find mentors to train him in the things he’s good at, to build a mentor support system.

Meet more inspirational First Americans and learn about the 39 Tribal Nations in Oklahoma by visiting First Americans Museum. The museum is open Wednesday through Monday. The third Sunday of each month is free for kids 12 and under. Learn more about the museum and kids programming at famok.org

What has the experience of working with kids at FAMcamp meant to you and what do you most hope to convey to your students?

My life mission is the development of American Indian classical composition — working with youth to help spread that legacy of composing is what I most want to do. I have enjoyed a great career myself and it’s important to pass on the opportunity to kids.

As a mentor, I’m a living encyclopedia, providing answers to their technical and notational questions. And I’m their life coach to make sure they are giving the best artistry they can give.

We have five to seven kids in each weeklong academy, and they compose short works for a string quartet. We bring in OKC Phil professionals and kids get to have their pieces played. Then they have the recordings for their portfolio to use for auditions to advance their dreams.

It’s many of these kids’ first time to compose. At the beginning of the week, they have blank music pages, and at the end, they have entirely finished works performed by professionals for a live audience. That’s it. That right there is what makes everything worth it. It’s really neat to see them demonstrate to themselves what they are capable of.

What’s your most important message to

Oklahoma youth?

Pursue your dreams with discipline and abandon. There are two aspects to life: one is irrational passion. We are attracted to certain things and there is no rationale for it. That is to be embraced and met with [the second aspect:] high discipline.

SPONSORED BY

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024 19
note: This article is
Editor’s
the second in a series of articles produced in conjunction with First Americans Museum to share the stories of inspirational modern-day and historic First Americans. Find the full series at metrofamilymagazine.com/ inspirational-first-americans (LEFT TO RIGHT ) TATE, HIS SON HELOHA TATE AND CHICKASAW NATION GOVERNOR BILL ANOATUBBY AT THE CHICKASAW STICKBALL YOUTH BANQUET.

Mom Talk

Panini Pressed Parenting

3 tips for the sandwich generation caring for kids and aging parents

Parenting is a balancing act. One that I am feeling increasingly challenged by as I sit squarely in midlife. When our son turns 18 in two days, I will have two minor children, a young adult and aging parents.

There are days that this balancing act is more obvious. Like when one of my kids is on day three of a fever. And one kid still needs extra help with their homework. Meanwhile, I’m playing the waiting game while a parent is undergoing a surgical procedure 700 miles away.

I have to confess I was woefully unprepared for the emotional rollercoaster that this season of parenting would bring. As I worry about our soon-to-be high school graduate moving toward independence, I also worry about my parents, who are in their 70s, and their ability to maintain their independence. As a mom, being pressed from both ends of the spectrum can feel overwhelming.

During the past 12 months, I have had conversations with friends who are in the same position. We are still raising our children while also providing physical, financial and/or emotional support to our aging parents. Some have had to make the difficult decision of moving a parent or both parents to care facilities. A couple of friends are also helping with grandchildren. We’ve all come to the same conclusion about this season of life: it can get messy.

I had heard the term “sandwich(ed) generation” many years ago. But, like most life experiences, I didn’t really give it much thought until I found myself smack dab in the middle of it.

The sandwich generation is described as those adults who are raising at least one child under the age of 18 (or providing financial support to an adult child) while also having a parent aged 65 or older. According to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey, about 25 percent of American adults are in this sandwich generation. Most are in their 40s, with 54 percent of 40 to 59 year olds falling into this category.

A newer term I have come across is the “panini generation.” Think of a panini pressed sandwich: the bread is pressed between two hot metal plates, the fillings smooshed together, sometimes spilling out over the edges. I don’t know about you, but for me, eating a panini sandwich can get messy no matter how careful I am.

Being sandwiched between kids or grandkids and parents can also get messy. It can feel even messier when the responsibilities include caring for parents with declining health, as several friends are currently experiencing. How do we manage this delicate position we’re in? Here are my top three tips.

MOM

1. Don’t go through it alone. You don’t have to try to keep your sandwich from falling apart on your own. Reach out to your community. This could be grabbing a coffee or going for a walk with a friend to talk about the challenges you’re facing. It may be joining a community support group. Here are a few local organizations that host groups and/or offer classes for caregivers and their loved ones:

• Sunbeam Family Services offers caregiver support groups in several communities including OKC, Moore and Guthrie. They also have an online group that meets twice monthly.

• Daily Living Centers primarily provides adult day services for seniors and adults with disabilities, but the organization also hosts a free monthly caregiver support group that is open to all.

• Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative is a statewide initiative that’s a valuable resource for older adults and their caregivers. Resources range from healthy living classes for older adults to caregiver training that addresses caregiver stress and self-care.

2. Plan ahead. The aging process is usually gradual, but this isn’t always the case. While your parents are still in a good state of physical and mental well-being, have conversations about what their wishes are for their aging years. These conversations may be difficult, but they are necessary.

Consider topics like their financial and health statuses or when assisted/specialized care should be considered. Have conversations with your kids as well to prepare them should the added responsibility of caring for their grandparents arise.

3. Keep it in perspective. I am grateful that our children are older and thriving. At 12, 15 and 17 years old, they are more independent and able to manage most daily tasks without help. I cannot imagine how much more difficult this would be if my kiddos were still little.

I am also grateful that my parents are in relatively good health given their age. While there are clear signs of aging, they can still live independently. I know my reality may not be the same as yours.

As we approach Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, if you also have aging parents or grandparents, take some time to consider your circumstances and how you can find some perspective.

Have tips to share for other sandwich generation parents? We’d love to hear them. Email us at tips@metrofamilymagazine.com

20 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024

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OKC Family Fun in May & June

22 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024
Calendar of Events
Contents 23 Things to do in May 24 Mother’s Day 26 Things to do in June 26 Father’s Day 28 Juneteenth 28 Summer festivals 30 Date night ideas 31 Independence Day

Things to do in May

MAY 3

FREE Fiesta Friday in Historic Capitol Hill (S Harvey between 24th & 25th St) features a family-friendly block party with pop-up shops and live entertainment. 7-10pm. Also held: June 21. historiccapitolhill.com

MAY 3-5

Thelma Gaylord Academy presents

Mean Girls at Lyric Plaza Theatre (1727 NW 16th St). Follow Cady Heron as she navigates a new high school and falls prey to The Plastics, a trio of lionized frenemies led by the ruthless Regina George. This community production features students in the academy ages 14-18. $15 & up. Friday, 7pm; Saturday, 2 & 7pm; Sunday, 2pm. thelmagaylordacademy.com

MAY 4

FREE Comic Book Day at participating retailers (various locations). Participating retailers across the country offer a free comic book to all customers to introduce new readers to the comic book medium. freecomicbookday.com

FREE VDubs on Auto Alley (NW 8th St from Robinson and Oklahoma Ave) features a family- and pet-friendly street festival and car show with classic, vintage and new Volkswagons as well as live entertainment and more. 8am-3pm. vwclubokc.org

FREE Family Nature Hike at Martin Park Nature Center (5000 W Memorial Rd) features a gentle morning wildlife hike. Park staff will answer questions about wildlife and nature. Preregister. A parent or guardian must attend and hike with the child. 9:30-10:30am. Also held: June 1 & July 6. okc.gov/parks

Fairy Tea Party at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features a fanciful fairy tea party. Guests will make fairy wands and flower crowns as they enjoy muffins and fairy juice. Best suited for ages 4-8. Member, $13; nonmember, $15. 11am-noon. myriadgardens.org

Water Coloring in the Garden Drop-in at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave). Use the garden as inspiration for your work of art. Stop by the Children’s Garden porch to get a tray of art materials and then find a cozy spot in the garden to let your creativity flow. Best suited for ages 4-16. $2 suggested donation. 2-3pm. myriadgardens.org

Cowboys of Color Rodeo at Jim Norick Arena (3001 General Pershing Blvd) features a competitive rodeo with culturally diverse cowboys and cowgirls competing in bull riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, bronc busting and barrel racing. $10$20. 5-10:30pm. okcfairgrounds.com

MAY 5

FREE BikeFest at Wheeler Ferris Wheel (1701 S Western Ave) features local bike shops, live music, familyfriendly activities and more. Free to attend. Noon-3pm. bikemonthok.org

FREE Cinco de Mayo Fiesta at Scissortail Park (415 S Robinson Ave) features food, music, dance performances and more. 3-10pm. facebook.com/OKCHCC

MAY 8-11

Phillips 66 Big 12 Softball Championship at Softball Hall of Fame Stadium (2801 NE 50th St) features the pool play of the six top teams in the Big 12. $20 & up. See website for schedule. big12sports.com

MAY 10

FREE DANCE! on the Plaza in the Plaza District (1700 block of NW 16th St) features local artists, live music, special events, local shopping and more. 6-10pm. plazadistrict.org/live

MAY 10-12

OKC Ballet’s Shorts at Civic Center Music Hall (201 N Walker Ave) features three iconic ballets in one performance: Carmina Burana, Fancy Free and Cacti. $23 & up. Friday & Saturday, 7:30pm; Sunday, 2pm. okcballet.org

FREE Armed Forces Day & Shriner’s Parade in Del City (29th St & Sunnylane, Del City) features bands, floats, military apparatuses and more. 10am-noon. cityofdelcity.gov

Thelma Gaylord Academy presents High School Musical Jr. at Lyric Plaza Theatre (1727 NW 16th St). The hit movie will come to life on stage following the stories of Troy, Gabriella and their classmates of East High. This community production features students in the academy ages 8-15. $15 & up. Friday, 7pm; Saturday, 2 & 7pm; Sunday, 2pm. thelmagaylordacademy.com

MAY 11

FREE Second OHOF Saturdays at Oklahoma Hall of Fame (1400 Classen Dr) features free family fun at the museum including crafts, games and more. During the first hour, guests can take part in a sensoryfriendly experience. All ages welcome. 9am2pm. Also held: June 8. oklahomahof.com

Alpaca Farm Day at Magnolia Blossom Ranch (2901 NW 16th St, Newcastle) features alpacas, activities for kids, live demonstrations and farm tours. $8; kids under 2, free. Tickets must be purchased in advance. 10am-2pm. magnoliablossomranch.com

FREE Second Saturday at Oklahoma Contemporary (11 NW 11th St) features a family-focused day of art-making, performances and gallery adventures for visitors of all ages. May events will be a summer camp sampler. 1-4pm. Also held: June 8. oklahomacontemporary.org

MAY 18

NAMIWalks Oklahoma at Scissortail Park (300 SW 7th St) features an awareness walk for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Benefits NAMI Oklahoma. 7:30-11:30am. namiwalks.org

Drop-in Art at Oklahoma City Museum of Art (415 Couch Dr) features a warm and cool color landscape painting art activity. No pre-registration required. Free with admission. Adults, $17; seniors, $13; kids (17 & under), free. 11am-4pm. okcmoa.com

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024 23

Calendar of Events

Mother’s Day

MAY 4-25

Breakfast with the Animals at the OKC Zoo (2000 Remington Pl) features a build-your-own breakfast taco bar, pancakes, potatoes and eggs while hearing from OKC Zoo caretakers and ambassador animals. A giraffe-feeding experience is included in the price of the ticket. Adults, $55; kids (3-11), $45. Discount available for Zoofriends members. Saturdays, 9-11am. okczoo.org

MAY 10

Night Market at Scissortail Park (801 S Robinson Ave) features local vendors, food trucks, live music and more. May’s event will celebrate Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Heritage Month. New this year, there will be makeand-take crafts, storytelling and more at the Play Pavilion Patio. Free to attend. 5:30-10pm. Also held: June 7. scissortailpark.org

Mom Night on the Wheel Workshop at Oklahoma Contemporary (11 NW 11th St). Have fun while learning to use the potter’s wheel and making a small bowl. No experience necessary. For ages 21 & up. $140 includes two spots. 7-9pm. oklahomacontemporary.org

MAY 11

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. Free to attend. 9am-4pm. myriadgardens.org

OKC Foodie Fest at Bicentennial Park (500 Couch Dr) features a celebration of culinary multiculturalism and diversity throughout Oklahoma City. The event will showcase Black, Indigenous, Latino and Asian restaurants and chefs. Free to attend. 11am-4pm. okcblackeats.com

GEORGIA O’KEEFFE, CALLA LILY (LILY - YELLOW NO. 2), 1927, OIL ON CANVAS, 20 X 9 IN., OKLAHOMA CITY

MUSEUM OF ART, WESTHEIMER FAMILY

COLLECTION, 2005.056, © GEORGIA O’KEEFFE MUSEUM / ARTIST RIGHTS

SOCIETY (ARS ), NEW YORK, PHOTO © OKLAHOMA CITY MUSEUM OF ART

MAY 12

FREE Admission to Oklahoma City Museum of Art (415 Couch Dr). Visitors of all ages receive access to the museum at no cost on the second Sunday of each month, thanks to the generous support of Art Bridges Foundation’s Access for All program. Noon-5pm. Also held: June 9. okcmoa.com

Mother’s Day Dessert Cruise at Oklahoma River Cruises (701 S Lincoln Blvd) features a river cruise with bite-sized desserts and mimosas at the cash bar. $30. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Departures at 1 & 4pm. okrivercruises.com

MAY 15

Roses for Recovery at ReMerge (823 N Villa Ave). Learn floral design skills to create two centerpiece floral arrangements – one that will be used at the annual Faces of ReMerge Luncheon and one to take home. Benefits ReMerge mothers and families. Preregister. $50. 6-8pm. remergeok.org

24 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024

Things to do in May

MAY 18

FREE Heard on Hurd Street Fest in downtown Edmond (Broadway Ave from 1st & Hurd, Edmond) features local food, unique shopping and live music. 6-10pm. Also held: June 15. mycitizens.bank/heard-on-hurd

MAY 19

AT&T Sundays at First Americans Museum (659 First Americans Blvd) features free admission to the museum galleries for kids ages 4-12. 11am-5pm. Also held: June 16. famok.org

MAY 23

Full Moon Bike Ride at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features a one-hour sunset bike ride throughout downtown Oklahoma City. $5 suggested donation. 8pm. Also held: June 21 at 8:45pm. myriadgardens.org

MAY 24

FREE Outdoor Movie in the Park at Lions Park (450 S Flood Ave, Norman) features an outdoor screening of Barbie. Pre-movie activities presented by the Firehouse House Arts Center. 7-10pm. facebook.com/normanokparks

MAY 24-26

GalaxyCon at Oklahoma City Convention Center (100 Mick Cornett Dr) features celebrities, artists, writers, voice actors, cosplayers, entertainers, creators, wrestlers and fan groups, all celebrating comic books, pop culture, sci-fi, fantasy, anime, gaming, cosplay and more. $40 & up. See website for schedule. galaxycon.com

MAY 25

FREE Explore a Shore at Martin Park Nature Center (5000 W Memorial Rd) features several stations to explore how water shapes Oklahoma and impacts animals, big and small. Preregister. 10am-1pm. okc.gov/parks

MAY 30-JUNE 7

NCAA Women’s College World Series at Hall of Fame Stadium (2801 NE 50th St). College teams will compete for the National Championship title. $35 & up. See website for schedule. ncaa.com

Additional location in Edmond at Covell and I-35! Now Open! METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024 25

Calendar of Events

Things to do in June

JUNE 1

FREE Family Fishing Derby at Griffin Park (1001 E Robinson St, Norman) features a fishing derby with food trucks and more. Bring your own bait. Children must be supervised by a legal guardian. All ages welcome. 8-11am. facebook.com/normanokparks

Picnic on the Prairie at Harn Homestead (1721 N Lincoln Blvd) features tours of the historic buildings and grounds, oldfashioned games, craft vendors, live music and more. Families can bring their own picnic lunch or purchase from onsite food trucks. 10am-2pm. harnhomestead.com

MetroFamily’s Thrive Fest at Mitch Park YMCA (2901 Marilyn Williams Dr, Edmond) features a local celebration of family health and wellness with fun activities and local resources in the areas of physical health, mental wellness, nutrition and safety. $5 in advance; $8 day of; adults & kids (under 2), free. 10am-2pm. metrofamilymagazine.com/thrive-fest

Autism Oklahoma PieceWalk at Scissortail Park (415 S Robinson Ave) features an awareness walk, kids’ zone, food trucks and a resource fair benefiting Autism Oklahoma. Free to attend; fundraising encouraged. 10am-8:30pm. piecewalk.org

Father’s Day

FREE Constellation Exploration at Lake Thunderbird State Park (131011 Alameda Dr, Norman) features a walk to the dam to view and learn about constellations while exploring star gazing tools. 8pm. facebook.com/LakeThunderbirdStatePark

JUNE 6

FREE VIBES Artwalk in downtown Edmond (Broadway from 2nd to Edwards St, Edmond) features local artists, art experiences, live entertainment and more. 6-9pm. edmondvibes.org

JUNE 7

Summer Beats & Eats at Central Park (700 S Broadway Ave, Moore) features a free concert in the park with live music, food trucks and lawn games. Free to attend. 6-9pm. cityofmoore.com

JUNE 8

FREE Arcadia Lake Kids Fishing Derby at Spring Creek Park (SE 15th St, Edmond). Young anglers ages 5-15 can enter the derby and 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

FREE Kids Fishing Derby at Buck Thomas Park (1903 NE 12th St, Moore). Kids ages 5-15 can cast a line to try to catch a prize fish. The pond will be stocked with catchablesized channel catfish. Bring your own pole and bait. Kids must be accompanied by an adult. 8-11am. cityofmoore.com

JUNE 13-15

FREE Jazz in June at Andrew’s Park (201 W Daws St, Norman) features a long list of jazz musicians performing over the course of the three-day festival. See website for schedule. jazzinjune.org

JUNE 14

Daddy & Daughter Party at the Pool at The Station Aquatic Center (700 S Broadway Ave, Moore) features a fun night of swimming, dancing, snacks and door prizes for girls and their dads or any influential adult figure. All ages welcome. $10; $15 day of. 6-8pm. cityofmoore.com

Walk for Kids at Scissortail Park (801 S Robinson Ave) features a familyfriendly, 2.5k walk benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities Oklahoma City. Preregister. Free to attend; fundraising encouraged. 8:30-11am. rmhc-okc.org

Summer Craft Series at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features a craft with a botanical theme. June’s activity is glowin-the-dark daisy friendship bracelets. Best suited for ages 8 & up. $2 suggested donation. 2-3pm. myriadgardens.org

JUNE 13-30

Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park presents A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare Gardens Outdoor Amphitheatre (2920 Paseo). Duke Theseus and Queen Hippolyta prepare for their royal wedding when they are interrupted by Egeus, who plans to marry his daughter to a man she doesn’t love. Adults, $33 & up; kids (18 & under), $28. Thursday, 7:30pm; Friday & Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 7:30pm. okshakes.org

JUNE 14

Let it Glow Event at Westwood Family Aquatic Center (2400 Westport Dr, Norman) features a family-friendly pool party with a live DJ and glow products. $5. 8:3010:30pm. facebook.com/normanokparks

JUNE 18

Blippi: The Wonderful World Tour at Hudiburg Chevrolet Center (6000 S Prosper Blvd, Midwest City). Dance, sing and learn with Blippi and special guest Meekah as they discover what makes different cities unique and special. Best suited for ages 2 & up. $37.50 & up. 6pm. okcciviccenter.com

JUNE 15

Family Tree Golf Tournament at Lake Hefner Golf Course (4491 S Lake Hefner Dr) features a family-friendly scramble tournament where multiple generations can compete together. Lunch provided. Team of three, $210; team of 4, $275. 8am-5pm. okc.gov/parks

JUNE 16

FREE Father’s Day Fest at Scissortail Park (601 S Robinson Ave) features inflatables, games, face painting, local vendors, food trucks and live entertainment. 11am-4pm. okcountycasa.org/fdf

26 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024

JUNE 20

First Day of Summer Drop-in at Myriad Gardens Children’s Garden (301 W Reno Ave) features nature art and activities. Best suited for ages 4-12. Free to attend; donations accepted. 10am-noon. myriadgardens.org

FREE Summer Solstice Celebration at First Americans Museum (659 First Americans Blvd) features a celebration of the longest day of the year with First American dancing and cultural demonstrations, plus see the sun set at the peak of the FAM Mound. 6-9pm. famok.org

JUNE 24-AUG. 9

Summer Walkups at Myriad Gardens Children’s Garden (301 W Reno Ave) features fun activities that explore and celebrate the world of plants. Each weekday offers a new theme. All ages welcome. $2 suggested donation. 10am-noon. myriadgardens.org

JUNE 25-30

Lyric Theatre presents Mary Poppins at Civic Center Music Hall (201 N Walker Ave). Enjoy the beloved family musical adventure with the unforgettable songs “A

Spoonful of Sugar,” “Chim Chim Cher-ee” and more. $50 & up. Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30pm; Friday, 8pm; Saturday, 2 & 8pm; Sunday, 2pm. lyrictheatreokc.com

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Calendar of Events

Juneteenth

JUNE 14-15

Juneteenth on the East in Oklahoma City (NE 23rd Ave from N Kelham Ave to N Hood St) features live music, a 5k race, interactive murals, dance performances, spoken word, food trucks and local small businesses. Free to attend. 3-9pm. withloveokc.org/Juneteenth

JUNE 15

Guthrie Juneteenth Celebration at Mineral Wells Park (819 S Division St, Guthrie) features food trucks, live music, games, shopping and more. 11am-2pm. facebook.com/ GuthrieJuneteenth1865

JUNE 18

FREE Juneteenth Celebration at Oklahoma History Center (800 Nazih Zuhdi Dr) features guest speakers, live performances, discussions and more focused on the history of Juneteenth.

Author Archietta Burch James, a descendant of an original Buffalo Soldier, will be at the event signing copies of her book. 5-8pm. okhistory.org

JUNE 19

FREE Norman Juneteenth Festival at Reaves Park (2501 Jenkins Ave, Norman) features live music, guest speakers, vendors, food trucks, games, a domino tournament, fireworks and more. 6-10pm. normanjuneteenth.com

Summer festivals

MAY 3-5

Rose Rock Music Festival in downtown Noble (304 S Main St, Noble) features live music, carnival rides, local vendors, festival food, a parade, car show and more. Free to attend. Friday, 5:30-10pm; Saturday, 10am-11pm; Sunday, 10:30am-3pm. nobleok.org/rose-rock-music-festival

Norman Pride Festival and Parade at Andrews Park & downtown Norman (various locations) features live music and other entertainment, a parade, 5k, activities for kids and more. See website for schedule. normanokpride.org/pridefest

FREE Arts Festival in downtown Edmond (Broadway from 2nd & Campbell St, Edmond) features artists from across the country, food vendors, live art demonstrations, music, children’s activities and more. Free to attend. Friday & Saturday, 10am-8pm; Sunday, 11am-5pm. facebook. com/DowntownEdmondArtsFestival

MAY 4

Prague Kolache Festival in downtown Prague (1107 N Broadway Ave, Prague) features dancing, music, food, crafts, a parade, carnival rides and fireworks. Free to attend. 9am10:30pm. praguekolachefestival.com

Festival of the Child at Yukon City Park (2200 S Holly Ave, Yukon) features a family-friendly festival with over 50 areas of fun including kayaking, pony rides, painting, inflatables, crafts and more. Activities are geared toward children 12 and under. $5 in advance, $7 day of; adults, free. 10am-4pm. yukonok.gov

El Reno Burger Day Festival in downtown El Reno (119 S Rock Island Ave, El Reno) features the cooking of an 850 pound fried onion burger, vendors, live music, games, rides, food trucks, classic car/motorcycle show and more. Free to attend. 10am-10pm. elrenoburgerday.com

28 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024
PHOTOS BY JESSE WARNE

FREE Red Brick Nights Street Festival in downtown Guthrie (2nd & Harrison Ave, Guthrie) features rotating pop-up shops, food trucks, live music and activities for kids. Free to attend. 5-11pm. Also held: June 1. facebook.com/RedBrickNights

MAY 18-19

FREE May Fair Arts Festival at Campus Corner (Boyd Street, Norman) features merchandise and exhibits from local artists and crafters, a children’s art contest and more. Saturday, 10am-6pm; Sunday, 11am-5pm. oucampuscorner.com

MAY 25

Bethany 66 Festival in downtown Bethany (38th St to 39th Expressway, Bethany) features live entertainment, arts & crafts booths, children’s activities including a princess & action hero parade and a car, motorcycle & truck show. 10am-3pm. bethanyimprovementfoundation.com

MAY 25-26

Chuck Wagon Festival at National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) features a celebration of Western and Native American history, art and cuisine for all ages. Enjoy Native American food samples, chuck wagon cooking, artisan demonstrations, Western re-enactors, archery, craft stations, country and western dancing, live music and more. $15 in advance; $20 at the door; kids (12 & under) & museum members, free. 10am-4pm. nationalcowboymuseum.org

MAY 25-27

Paseo Arts Festival in the Paseo Arts District (3022 Paseo St) features visual artists selling original artwork in a wide variety of media, from painting and photography to wood and jewelry, plus live entertainment and activities for kids. Free to attend. Saturday & Sunday, 10am-8pm; music, 10pm; Monday, 10am-5pm. thepaseo.org

MAY 31-JUNE 2

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, 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

JUNE 6-9

deadCenter Film Festival (various locations) features new short films, documentaries, comedies, monster movies and some of the best independent films from around the world and all over Oklahoma. All access passes, $200; individual tickets, $10 (when available). See website for schedule. deadcenterfilm.org

JUNE 8

Chandler Ice Cream Festival at Tilghman Park (417 Park Rd, Chandler) features free

ice cream, carnival rides, activities for kids, live music and more. Free to attend. Noon-5pm. chandlerareachamberok.com

JUNE 22

Stars & Stripes River Festival at RIVERSPORT OKC (800 Riversport Dr) features a full day of rowing, paddling and dragon boat racing. Free to attend; parking, $10. 8am-10pm. riversportokc.org

JUNE 28-30

OKC PrideFest & Parade at Scissortail Park (415 S Robinson Ave) features a threeday festival with art, music, a parade, family activities and more. Free to attend. See website for schedule. okcpridealliance.org

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024 29
OKC PRIDEFEST PARADE. PHOTO BY JESSIE RAY.

Calendar of Events

Date night ideas

MAY 17

FREE Dancing in the Gardens – Salsa Night at Myriad Gardens (301 W Reno Ave) features an evening of dancing with a live DJ and dance lesson. All ages welcome. 7-10pm. myriadgardens.org

MAY 18

Oklahoma Craft Beer Festival at State Fairgrounds Pavilion (3212 Wichita Walk) features over 70 different breweries from all over the United States including many local breweries. $50 & up. VIP, 1-4pm; general admission, 6-9pm. facebook.com/okcraftbeerfest

OKCPHIL presents Tosca at Civic Center Music Hall (201 N Walker Ave). This classics concert features Alexander Mickelthwate, conductor; Latonia Moore, soprano; Adam Smith, tenor; Alan Held, baritone; and the OKC Philharmonic orchestra. $27 & up. 8pm. okcphil.org

MAY 21-26

OKC Broadway presents Mamma Mia at Civic Center Music Hall (201 N Walker Ave). Set on a Greek island paradise where the sun always shines, a tale of love, friendship and identity is beautifully told through the timeless hits of ABBA. $30 & up. Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30pm; Friday, 8pm; Saturday, 2 & 8pm; Sunday, 1:30 & 7pm. okcbroadway.com

MAY 25

Beats Music Festival at Scissortail Park (1423 S Robinson Ave) features a live music festival in the heart of Oklahoma City. Free to attend; VIP, $45 & up. 2:30pm. beatsmusicfestival.com

Beats & Bites Festival at Riverwind Casino (1544 W State Hwy 9, Norman) features a concert, food trucks and more. 5-11pm. riverwind.com

JUNE 28

Trivia Night at National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (1700 NE 63rd St) features an evening of Western trivia. Enjoy snacks and drinks while putting your trivia knowledge to the test for exclusive museum prizes. $25; all-access (open bar), $45. 5:30-10:30pm. nationalcowboymuseum.org

30 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024
PHOTOS BY TANGO PR

Independence Day

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

JULY 3 & 4

FREE Yukon Freedom Fest at Yukon City Park & Chisholm Trail Park (2200 S Holly, 500 W Vandament, Yukon) features live music, activities for kids, contests, food trucks, fireworks and more.

Wednesday, 5-10pm; Thursday, 8am10pm. yukonok.gov/freedomfest

JULY 4

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 family-centered patriotic celebration with music, food trucks and fireworks display. 7-10pm. midwestcityok.org

Find a full list of local events at metrofamilymagazine.com/ calendar.

Kids Programs

Whether your child loves the arts, STEM, sports or all of the above, find the perfect fit for their interests. See all the programs online.

FALL WILL BE HERE BEFORE YOU KNOW IT CHILD CARE SCHOOL-AGE ymcaokc.org/basc Learn more at METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024 31
SUMMER Camps okc.gov/parks Register at cadenceequestrian.com Ask about our Super Start Package CADENCE EQUESTRIAN OFFERED YEAR ROUND. AGES 4 & UP. Now Enrolling! Learn to ride Horses!
SPRING &

Thank you to our sponsors, vendors and attendees!

Kids Fest was held April 20 at Rose State College and a great time was enjoyed by all. MetroFamily’s next event is Thrive Fest on June 1 at Mitch Park YMCA.

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Skate into Summer

MetroFamily’s Ultimate Summer Fun Guide

Skate into the season of sunshine with plenty of ideas for summer family fun! Find our favorite local attractions, close-to-home travel destinations and boredom busters in these pages. Plus, check out simple summertime snack boards for family meal planning made easy and important summer safety tips. Don’t miss this season’s ultimate family vacation — ride the Heartland Flyer to Fort Worth, Texas for a weekend of adventure!

38 Kid-friendly snack boards for meals made easy

40 Summertime safety: essential tips to protect your family

42 100 days of summer adventures

58 All aboard the Heartland Flyer to Fort Worth

Find even more seasonal fun at metrofamilymagazine.com/summer.

36 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024
PHOTO BY FOTO ARTS PHOTOGRAPHY

Summertime Scoop

4 newsworthy happenings for families

Splash-tastic seasonal fun awaits in Edmond

Edmond’s Ted Anderson park will reopen in summer 2024 with a brand new splash pad and new playground equipment. The splash pad will include assorted splash arc and ground spray options as well as a GeoMister. The park will also offer picnic areas, grills, a restroom building, an outdoor shower and a practice ball field.

The park is located at 2405 S. Rankin. Follow Edmond Parks and Recreation on Facebook for opening day updates.

Dive into summer reading — and earn prizes

Summer vacation does not have to mean a vacation from reading! These months are a great time for children to expand their literary world, learn to enjoy reading for fun, help sharpen school skills and bridge the gap between school years with a Summer Reading Program.

Both the Metropolitan and Pioneer library systems provide kids and adults opportunities to track reading and earn prizes and incentives. Visit your local library for more details, or check out metrolibrary. org/summerreading or pioneerlibrarysystem.org.

Science Live! explodes with more interactivity

Science Museum Oklahoma’s Science Live! auditorium has undergone an extensive renovation, including a new interactive entrance, updated sound and light systems, large screen monitors and enhanced safety features to accommodate even more engaging shows. Science Live! includes interactive experiments, demonstrations and engaging dialogue designed to be educational and entertaining for guests of all ages. Shows are scheduled multiple times per day and include audience favorites like fire-throwing and scientific explosions as well as a new energy-focused show. Within the shows, guests have the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities and interact with knowledgeable science educators. Get more information about museum tickets and shows at sciencemuseumok.org

Explore new nature adventures for families

Martin Park Nature Center has announced brand new programs for families beginning this summer. Make a splash with their “Explore a Shore” program on Saturday, May 25, which features a day of aquatic learning that explores how water shapes Oklahoma and impacts animals. Participants will look at the microfauna that live in the park’s pond and creeks and learn about bigger inhabitants such as catfish, beavers and snapping turtles.

Next, don’t miss out on the “Animals No One Loves” program on Saturday, June 15. Families will discover interesting facts about creatures like snakes, skunks, bats and vultures; engage in hands-on activities; and even get up close and personal with some of Martin Park’s animal ambassadors during a meetand-greet.

Find a full list of the park’s summer programs at okc.gov/ departments/parks-recreation/martin-park-nature-center.

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024 37 New & Now
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY METROPOLITAN LIBRARY SYSTEM

Kid-Friendly Snack Boards

Make summertime hassle-free with healthy snack boards for family mealtimes

Delight everyone in your household with creative family snack boards and muffin tin snack trays — the perfect nutritious meals for a summer on the go.

While we’re certainly all cheering for warmer weather and summertime family fun, the last few weeks of school can be hectic, and the slow summer months quickly turn busy with family adventures, summer camps and outdoor exploration. When life gets chaotic, dining out more often can be tempting. Instead of hitting the drive-thru, try these healthy family snack board ideas to make mealtimes a breeze and add nutrition to fuel all the fun ahead.

Breakfast on the Go

Whether kids need to eat breakfast on the way to summer camp or you’re headed for a morning out in the sunshine, quick and easy breakfast boards are sure to please every age. Include items like fruit, mini pancakes with nut butter for dipping, hard-boiled eggs, avocado or energy bites.

Banana Oatmeal Pancakes

With only three ingredients, these pancakes are ready in no time! Store in the freezer as a grab-and-go option.

Ingredients

• 2 ripe bananas

• 2 eggs

• 1 cup rolled oats

Optional mix-ins and toppings

• Vanilla

• Cinnamon

• Berries

• Nuts

Instructions

1. Preheat a skillet on low heat.

2. Mix the bananas, eggs and oats in a blender or food processor on low speed.

3. Grease skillet with cooking spray or olive oil and use a ¼ measuring cup to pour the batter onto the prepared skillet.

4. Add in mix-ins and toppings, if desired.

5. Once the bottom of each pancake is thoroughly cooked, flip and cook the other side.

6. Serve with maple syrup, nut butter or your favorite pancake toppings.

3 tips for healthy snack boards that satisfy

• Fill at least half of the tray or board with fruits and veggies.

• Use a muffin tin to serve and separate out the items.

• Remember that simple can still be delicious!

38 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024

Peanut Butter Energy Bites

These protein-packed breakfast bites will start your morning off right. Plus, they freeze for up to 2 months or refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Ingredients

• 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter

• 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

• 1 cup old-fashioned oats

• 1/2 cup ground flax seed

• 2 Tbsp honey

Instructions

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Ingredients

• 1 15 oz can chickpeas (reserve the liquid)

• 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)

• 1/4 cup tahini

• 2 cloves garlic (peeled)

• 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

• 1/2 tsp ground cumin

• 2-3 Tbsp water (or liquid from beans)

• 1/4 tsp salt

• 1/2 cup canned roasted red peppers (well drained)

• Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

pool, portable snacks are a must this time of year. Skip the ultraprocessed options in favor of a healthy snack board filled with fruits, veggies and a delicious dip. Add nuts, cheese, plain popcorn or lean meats for long-lasting energy.

Fruit Dip

Ingredients

• 1 cup plain yogurt (Greek, almond, soy, coconut, etc.)

• 2 tsp honey

• 1-2 dashes cinnamon

• 1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

1. Stir all ingredients together until smooth.

2. Serve with apple slices or berries.

In a food processor, combine all ingredients except peppers. Pulse until mixture is combined, then process until very smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Add reserved bean liquid to achieve desired consistency.

Add roasted peppers and pulse to desired consistency.

Serve with veggies, crackers and pita chips.

Dinner Made Easy

Hot temps and busy schedules mean families need quick dinner ideas. Skip the drive-thru and make your kids’ favorite meal at home: chicken nuggets. Serve your dinner charcuterie-style with fruit, veggies and cheese cubes, making this meal extra easy to enjoy as a

Baked Chicken Nuggets

chicken breasts, boneless and skinless

Italian herb seasoning

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a cooking sheet.

2. Place cornflakes in plastic bag and crush.

3. Cut chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces and coat with garlic powder, paprika and Italian herb seasoning.

4. Add a few chicken pieces at a time to crumb mixture in the plastic bag. Shake to coat evenly.

5. Place chicken pieces on cooking sheet so they are not touching.

6. Bake until golden brown, about 12-14 minutes.

Get even more healthy snack and meal ideas at MyShapeYourFutureOK.com.
METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024 39

2024 Summer Safety Guide

Essential tips for OKC families to safeguard summer fun

As summer approaches, metro families are gearing up for a season of adventure and relaxation. As you’re planning family fun like embarking on a road trip, enjoying the outdoors or lounging by the pool, safety should remain at the forefront of your mind. These essential tips will help safeguard your loved ones this summer and throughout the year.

“With conscious effort, useful information and vigilance by parents and caregivers, our children’s summers can be filled with joy and memorymaking rather than tragedy,” said Elizabeth Koldoff, director of injury prevention at Safe Kids Oklahoma.

SPONSORED BY

Hitting the road

Wherever your family ventures this summer, the most important thing is to buckle up! In 2021, the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office (OHSO) reported 259 deaths of unrestrained individuals in motor vehicle crashes. Adults can lead by example by always wearing their seat belts. Ensure children’s car and booster seats are properly installed, which can prevent injuries in the event of an accident. Safe Kids Oklahoma offers frequent free car seat checks in the OKC metro (with events posted to Safe Kids Oklahoma’s Facebook account) and provides a free online car seat safety guide, accessible via bethanychildrens.org

Whether you’re on a road trip or running errands, never leave children alone in the car. Summer temperatures can rise rapidly,

with a car heating up by 19 degrees in just 10 minutes, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. The heatstroke that can ensue is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children. The National Safety Council reported 29 child hot car deaths in the United States in 2023. On average, 38 children under age 15 die each year from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle. Safe Kids Worldwide recommends parents place their purse, briefcase or phone near their child as a visual reminder to check the back seat before exiting the vehicle.

Hello, sunshine!

While the warm summer sun feels great, it’s crucial to protect babies and kids from harmful ultraviolet (UV) exposure. Babies under 6 months should be kept out of the sun completely. Find a shady spot and use a stroller awning, hat, sun-protective clothing and even sunglasses. For toddlers and young children, make sunscreen application fun and involve them in the process. For kids and teens, regular reapplication of sunscreen is essential, along with wearing sun-protective clothing and hats.

The thrill of riding

Summer is peak season for biking and hitting the trails on All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs). The number one safety tip for both activities is to always wear a properly fitted helmet.

The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office (OHSO) reported 32 fatalities and 62 serious

40 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024

injuries from ATV or Side by Side crashes on public roads in 2019-2020, with helmet use verified for only three of those incidents. In 2023, children up to age 19 accounted for more than 25 percent of ATV fatalities in the United States, according to the Consumer Federation of America.

Always ensure bicycles and ATVs are the proper size for your child. Outfit bicycles with lights and reflectors, and wear brightly colored clothing when riding. ATV riders should wear long sleeves, long pants, goggles, gloves and boots.

Ride Safe Oklahoma recommends adult supervision for ATV riders under the age of 16 and to never allow a child under age 10 to operate an ATV. Ride Safe Oklahoma offers educational programs for schools and organizations as well as a hands-on rider course for ATV safety.

Making a splash

Swimming and enjoying water activities are favorite summer pastimes for many families. When near the water, supervision should be the number one priority. Children should always be actively supervised by

an adult in and around water, even when a lifeguard is present.

According to Safe Kids Oklahoma, drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4 and the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children ages 5 to 14. Each year in Oklahoma, about 20 children die from drowning, and 15 more are hospitalized for near-drowning incidents. Teach children to never go into or near the water without an adult present. Swimming aids such as water wings or noodles should not be relied upon for safety and are not a substitute for supervision. Swimming skills improve with practice, but even older, more experienced swimmers should always swim with a partner.

Backyard family fun

After everyone has finished swimming and it’s time for a barbecue, establish a three-foot safety zone around the grill and keep kids and pets away from the grilling area. Ensure all matches and lighters are stored out of reach of children, and have an adult supervise the grill while it’s in use.

The safest way to enjoy summer fireworks is to leave them to the professionals and attend public fireworks displays. Even sparklers pose a burn risk for children as they can reach temperatures of up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. Glow sticks are a safe and fun alternative for after-dark entertainment.

If you do choose to use fireworks at home, they should be lit by adults and kept at a safe distance from others. Always have a bucket of water and a fire extinguisher on hand when lighting fireworks.

Editor’s note: Bethany Children’s Health Center is committed to enhancing the health and safety of Oklahoma children. The community health programs sustained and developed by the center focus on providing education and community resources. Programs like Healthy Schools OK, Safe Kids Oklahoma and ATV Ride Safe Oklahoma are dedicated to creating a healthier and safer community for every Oklahoman. For more information and safety tips from Bethany Children’s Health Center, visit bethanychildrens.org/community-health

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024 41
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Local Family Fun

100 Days of Summer

The best in frugal family fun this season

From long-time OKC favorites and top trends in family fun to close-tohome travel destinations and boredom busters, check out these ideas to make your summer extra memorable!

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 select Saturdays throughout the summer to hear and see nocturnal animals that only come out when the lights are out. Learn more at okc.gov/parks.

3. Head to a local farm and pick your own produce! Find a farm near you at metrofamilymagazine.com/okcpick-your-own-farms

4. Enjoy nostalgic family fun at a local drive-in movie theater. Find details for the few still in operation in Oklahoma at metrofamilymagazine. com/drive-in-movie-theaters-inoklahoma

5. Giddy up cowboy and head to the Chuck Wagon Festival at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum on May 25-26.

6. Stop in to Oklahoma City Museum of Art to see show-stopping flower art by Georgia O’Keeffe and costumes by award-winning designer Edith Head, some of which were worn by Hollywood stars Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and more. Admission is free for all guests on the second Sunday of each month and kids ages 17 and under always get in free!

7. Watch the sunset from atop the Wheeler Ferris Wheel.

8. 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.

9. Boost your family’s wellness factor at MetroFamily’s Thrive Fest, a celebration of family health and wellness, hosted this year at the Mitch Park YMCA on June 1.

10. Experience turn-of-the-century territorial life in Oklahoma at the Harn Homestead during their Picnic on the Prairie event on June 1. Bring your own picnic or buy lunch from a food truck on site.

11. Visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.

12. Watch Shakespeare under the stars! Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park is bringing to life the iconic play A Midsummer Night’s Dream June 13-30 in their outdoor theatre.

13. Celebrate Juneteenth, which marked 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

14. Witness the remarkable views of the setting sun as it aligns with the First Americans Museum Mound during the Summer Solstice Celebration on June 20.

15. 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/parks

42 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024
PROVIDED.
GEORGIA O’KEEFFE. WHITE BIRD OF PARADISE, 1939. OIL ON CANVAS, 19 X 16 INCHES. GEORGIA O’KEEFFE MUSEUM. GIFT OF JEAN HOLMES MCDONALD. © GEORGIA O’KEEFFE MUSEUM. [ 2009.2.1] PHOTO: TIM NIGHSWANDER/IMAGING4ART

16. Kick back on the shores of the Oklahoma River to watch a full day of rowing and racing at the Stars & Stripes River Festival on June 22.

17. Explore military history and vehicles at the free Oklahoma National Guard Museum.

20. Celebrate Pride Month at the OKC PrideFest Parade, Family Zone and PrideFest weekend at Scissortail Park June 28-30.

18. Sign up for Vacation Bible School! Churches around the metro host free events throughout the summer, including New Covenant’s free Start the Party VBS June 24-27, where kids ages 4 through fifth grade enjoy crafts, games, songs and more. Get signed up at metrofamilymagazine. com/vacation-bible-school-guide.

19. Dive into the science of osteology at SKELETONS: Museum of Osteology, where you can see skulls and skeletons from around the world.

23. Spend a day strolling through Bricktown. Ride the Bricktown Water Taxi, play a round of mini golf at Brickopolis Entertainment, catch an OKC Baseball Club game at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, visit the American Banjo Museum and much more!

24. 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

21. Celebrate all things red, white and blue at Edmond’s LibertyFest, with events held from June 14July 4. Catch the iconic parade and fireworks show, both held on Independence Day.

22. Experience explosive fun, watch weather come to life and examine electrifying experiments during the all-new Science Live! shows at Science Museum Oklahoma in their newly renovated auditorium.

25. Catch Lyric Theatre’s family-friendly productions of Mary Poppins June 25-30 and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella July 30-Aug. 4.

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024 43
PHOTO BY JESSIE RAY PHOTOS BY OKLAHOMA LEGISLATIVE SERVICE BUREAU, COURTESY OF THE OKLAHOMA ARTS COUNCIL

Local Family Fun

26. Take a trip to Africa via the OKC Zoo! The newly opened Expedition Africa features Zoo favorites, like giraffes and the African Painted Dogs, in addition to species new to the Zoo. Enjoy views of the African savanna and naturalistic animal habitats across 12 acres, the largest Zoo expansion to date!

27. Ride the streetcar downtown.

28. Take your summer of fun to the streets! Visit a local street festival or community block party, like LIVE on the Plaza or Edmond’s VIBES. Find our favorites at metrofamilymagazine.com/ family-friendly-okc-street-festivals.

29. Celebrate the end of summer at Yukon’s annual Red Dirt music festival: Rock the Route! Held Aug. 29, the free concert features family activities and food trucks in addition to a variety of performances.

Build a terrarium as a family at locally owned Plant People Shop in Midtown.

What happens when toys are let out of their boxes?! Experience the unique photography exhibit Out of the Toy Box by Mitchel Wu at Science Museum Oklahoma beginning May 18.

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.

35. Explore the Code of the West, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s newest interactive exhibition.

36. Experience the multi-media exhibition SHELTER at Oklahoma Contemporary, where admission is always free, before it closes on Aug. 19. Artist Lisa Karrer explores the experiences of displaced peoples through oral interviews and video projections.

37. Check out First Americans Museum on the third Sunday of the month when kids ages 4-12 get in free for AT&T Sundays.

New & Trending

30. Cultivate your artistic side at a creative space in the metro. From visual and performing arts to culinary kitchens and makerspaces, there are so many ways to be a creator! Find your family’s outlet at metrofamilymagazine.com/creativespaces-in-okc

31. Challenge your family to a friendly game of basketball, pickleball or

38. Catch a flick at the deadCenter Film Festival, June 6-9.

39. 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

40. Get everyone moving with a round of disc golf. Find tips for beginners and ideal local courses for families at metrofamilymagazine.com/discgolf-101

41. Ride your bike over the tops of shipping containers (yes, really!) at RIVERSPORT OKC’s bike park.

42. Keep that bike-riding momentum going by exploring new (or newto-you!) family-friendly bike trails, events and races. Plan your ride at metrofamilymagazine.com/okcbike-events.

44 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024
PHOTO BY ANDREA J. PHOTO BY TOM A.

43. Make a charcuterie-board style meal with healthy summertime inspiration from Shape Your Future Oklahoma. Check out recipes on page 38.

44. Help your kids become OKC famous when you enter them in MetroFamily’s annual Cover Kids Search! Beginning July 17, kids ages 4-12 can enter for a chance to appear on a MetroFamily cover in 2025. Enter at metrofamilymagazine. com/coverkidssearch

45. Walk through a giant ear into the unexpected, imaginative, immersive world of Mix-Tape at Factory Obscura, where the art on display is touchable and all around you.

Exploring Oklahoma & Beyond

48. Say hello to summer at the annual Sunfest in Bartlesville. The outdoor festival May 31-June 2 features a car show, live entertainment, food, activities for kids and more.

49. 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 as part of MetroFamily’s Ultimate Summer Fun Contest on page 6!

46. Plan some #okcfamilyfun with your pup! Check out our favorite dog parks in OKC at metrofamilymagazine.com/dogparks-in-the-metro

47. Cap off your summer of fun at the Fireflight Balloon Fest in Shawnee on Aug. 9-10 with balloon launches, a kids’ zone, splash pad and the magical evening balloon glow.

50. Go horseback riding with Sequoyah Riding Stables through the variety of wooded and open trails in Sequoyah State Park in Hulburt.

51. Cool off with a cold treat at the free Chandler Ice Cream Festival on June 8. Held in honor of the Hiland Dairy plant, enjoy free ice cream, carnival rides, live music and more.

52. There’s been an invasion at the Tulsa Zoo – an invasion of giant animatronic bugs! The Bugs exhibit, open through Sept. 2, invites visitors to experience the world from a bug’s perspective.

53. While in Tulsa, experience the powerful story and legacy of Black

54. Hop aboard the Heartland Flyer for a unique trip to Fort Worth, Texas. Get a full itinerary for a weekend of fun on page 58.

55. Head to Shawnee to experience the new KidSpace Park, which features unique play spaces including giant outdoor checkers, a ninja obstacle course and a 40-yard dash track. Plan your trip at metrofamilymagazine.com/ shawnee-oklahoma.

56. Check out the newly updated Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum in Seminole. Renovated outdoor spaces include a Children’s Garden complete with a fairy garden, farm animals and a pretend farmers market.

57. 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

58. Rent a dune buggy or ATV to scale the 1,600 acres of sand dunes in Little Sahara State Park near Waynoka.

59. Cool off by visiting a cave or go wild on a spelunking adventure. Find our faves at metrofamilymagazine.com/ caves-to-explore

60. Head to Arcadia to see the Round Barn and enjoy a meal at Pops.

61. Sleep in a yurt at Natural Falls State Park near the Oklahoma-Arkansas border.

62. Swim and rent canoes or paddle boats on Lake Altus, hike trails, fish, visit the amusement park and check out the newly renovated lodge at Quartz Mountain State Park in southwest Oklahoma. Find a full itinerary for a weekend getaway at metrofamilymagazine.com/ quartz-mountain-state-park

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024 45
PHOTO BY ALLIE SHINN

Local Family Fun

63. Splash around in nature at an Oklahoma swimming hole. Popular destinations include Blue Hole Park in Salina and the Chickasaw Recreation Area in Sulphur.

64. Spend a day in McLoud for the annual Blackberry Festival July 7-8, where you can sample fresh blackberries and blackberryflavored treats in addition to watching the parade and enjoying carnival games.

65. Visit Durant, the headquarters of the Choctaw Nation, where the Choctaw Casino & Resort features a family-friendly tropical oasis complete with pools and waterslides. Plus, visit the Choctaw Nation Cultural Center where kids will love the unique technology and interactive spaces.

66. Enjoy free peaches and ice cream at the 58th Peach Festival in Porter on July 18-19. Plus, check out the parade, arts and craft vendors, tractor pull and culinary contests.

67. Visit the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur and take part in the daily Stomp Dances. Stop by Chickasaw Nation-owned Bedré Chocolate Factory on your way!

68. Head to the beach right here in Oklahoma! The Sooner State offers miles and miles of lake and reservoir

splashing fun. Find our favorites at metrofamilymagazine.com/bestbeaches-in-oklahoma.

69. Float the iconic Illinois River near Tahlequah. Pro tip: plan your float on a weekday, when the river is less crowded.

70. Visit Osage Nation in northeast Oklahoma for fishing, hiking and swimming at Osage Hills State Park, a drive through the Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie and a visit to Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve. Next, head to Pawhuska to visit the Pioneer Woman Mercantile and walk across the town’s iconic swinging bridge.

71. Pack a picnic and lace up your hiking shoes for a trek through Red Rock Adventure Park near Hinton.

72. Stay in a covered wagon at Robbers Cave State Park.

73. Prep for the debut of the muchanticipated sequel Twisters with a visit to the Twister the Movie Museum in Wakita.

74. Savor the sweetness of summer at the annual Watermelon Festival in Rush Springs on Aug. 10. Check out the carnival rides, craft fair, car show, watermelon-themed activities and seed-spitting contest!

Boredom Busters

75. It’s not too late to register the kids for summer camps! Find camps that still have room at metrofamilymagazine.com/summercamps

76. Volunteer as a family at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. Find family volunteer opportunities across the metro at metrofamilymagazine.com/ family-volunteer-opportunities

77. Build a blanket fort!

78. 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.

79. Visit a locally owned bookstore such as Nappy Roots, Full Circle, Commonplace Books or Best of Books, many of which host weekly story times.

80. Head off the beaten path for some new-to-you attractions like the Oklahoma Railway Museum or Oklahoma Firefighters Museum. Find more ideas at metrofamilymagazine.com/lesserknown-venues-for-family-fun-inokc

81. Have a hula-hooping contest.

82. Stay cool at a metro splash pad. Find our favorites at metrofamilymagazine.com/ splash-pads-pools-lakes

46 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024
PHOTO BY MARK DOESCHER

83. Make a list of your favorite local parks and playgrounds and then add some new-to-you locations you want to try. How many can you check off your list by the end of the season? Visit metrofamilymagazine. com/metro-parks to get started.

84. Enjoy the best of locally grown produce and foods by visiting a farmers market. Find a full list of our favorite local markets at metrofamilymagazine.com/ farmers-markets

85. Check out an audiobook from your local library and listen as a family.

86. Break out the glow sticks for a twilight family walk.

87. Stay up late to stargaze.

88. Enjoy a summertime outdoor concert or movie. Find the metro’s seasonal line-up at metrofamilymagazine.com/ outdoor-movies-concerts

89. Get into the Olympic spirit with an active game night. Think balloon volleyball, relay races, water balloon shot put or pool noodle javelin toss.

90. Learn how to conserve water during the hot summer months. Get tips from local nonprofit SixTwelve at metrofamilymagazine.com/how-toconserve-water.

91. 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-inokc

92. Celebrate National Joke Day on July 1 with a don’t-laugh challenge to see who has the best jokes in the family.

93. Learn more about snakes at the free World Snake Day Celebration at Martin Park Nature Center on July 13. Meet park ambassador snakes, make themed arts & crafts and more.

94. Take part in the most relaxing of holidays, National Hammock Day, on July 22. If you don’t have a hammock at home, consider kicking back in the Wheeler Ferris Wheel’s hammock grove.

metrofamilymagazine. com/simple-science to get started.

96. Plan a backyard campout or go camping at a state park. Invite your neighbors to a popsicle party.

98. Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt. Find a list of things to search for at metrofamilymagazine.com/ outdoor-scavenger-hunt.

99. Prepare a puddling or insect watering dish to get your yard ready for the fall monarch migration. After a particularly difficult season last year, these beautiful pollinators could really use our help.

100. Create a digital scrapbook or photo book of your family’s favorite summertime experiences so you can look back at the memories for years to come!

Find (and bookmark) this article with the convenience of clickable links here. 

Discover fun programs, storytimes, take home kits and more at Metro Library. metrolibrary.org | (405) 231-8650 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024 47

Find even more ultimate summer fun ideas in the following pages, courtesy of MetroFamily partners.

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10:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M.

Free for Museum members and children 12 and under

Enjoy chuck wagon food samples from 7 different chuck wagons, artisan demonstrations, Western reenactors, craft stations, Country and Western dancing, live music and more.

Indigenous food samples provided by The Wolf’s Plate Catering

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seize the summer! Seize the summer!

OKC Parks

Explorers Camp

Ages: 6 to 12

Time: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Location: Sellers Rec Center

Price: $135.00

Dates: 5/28 - 8/06 | Mon-Fri

Southern Oaks Kidz Rock

Entire Summer or monthly

Ages: 6 to 14

Time: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Location: Southern Oaks Rec Center - Gym Full Court

Price: $25.00

Dates: 6/03/24 - 8/09/24

OKC Parks KIK IT UP! Kids Cooking Camp

Ages: 6 to 12

Time: 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Location: Sellers Rec Center

Price: $10.00

Multiple Dates Available

Youth Artist Camp

Ages: 6 to 12

Time: 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Location: Sellers Rec Center

Price: $75.00

Multiple Dates Available

OKC Parks Teen Cuisine Cooking Camp

Ages: 12 to 17

Time: 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Location: Sellers Rec Center

Price: $10.00

Multiple Dates Available

OKC Parks Beginners Roller Skating

Ages: 6 to 12

Time: 10:00 am - 11:00 am

Location: Sellers Park

Price: $15.00

OKC Parks intermediate Roller Skating

Ages: 6 to 12

Time: 10:00 am - 11:00 am

Location: Sellers Park

Price: $15.00

Multiple Clinics available

OKC Parks Skateboarding

Ages: 8 to 15

Time: 9:00 am - 11:00 am

Price: $100.00

Location: Multiple Location

Multiple Clinics Available

Basketball Camp

Ages: 6 to 12

Time: 9:30 am - 3:30 pm

Location: Willa D. Johnson Community Center

North Gym

Prices: $0 - $15.00

Dates: 6/12/24 - 6/14/24

Soccer Camp

Ages: 6 to 12

Time: 9:30 am - 3:30 pm

Location: Willa D. Johnson Community Center

North Gym

Prices: $0 - $15.00

Dates: 6/26/24 - 6/28/24

Baseball/softball Camp

Ages: 10 to 12

Time: 9:30 am - 03:30 pm

Location: Willa D. Johnson Community Center

North Gym

Price: $0 - $15.00

Dates: 7/17/24 - 7/19/24

Multiple Clinics Available scan to register and for more info or visit okc.gov/parks and select days camps

Making Splashes Together

Extraordinary

Unforgettable memories are made here! Enjoy endless adventure and fun together in one extraordinary place.

Exploring Beyond Oklahoma

All Aboard!

Roll down to Fort Worth on the Heartland Flyer

Summer travel season is upon us and it’s the perfect time to plan a weekend getaway filled with nostalgia, cowboys and culture aboard the Heartland Flyer –destination Cowtown.

Day 1

Heartland Flyer & Fort Worth Stockyards

Stepping outside the typical weekend trip, my family opted to travel aboard the Heartland Flyer, which departs daily on a round trip between OKC and Fort Worth, Texas. The roughly four-hour train ride provided a relaxing start and finish to our three days of fun since we were able to swap the cramped quarters of our family car (and the usual bickering that comes with it) and driving responsibilities for some much-needed quality time.

The journey not only provided respite from typical travel stressors but also set a tranquil tone for the adventures that awaited us.

Arriving at the OKC station 30 minutes ahead of our departure, the boarding process was quick and easy. We waited inside the historic depot for our train to arrive. Tracking via the app, we were able to see the train pull into the platform. Once the conductor called for us to board, we scanned our tickets, picked our seats and stowed our luggage, all set for our adventure in a matter of minutes. We opted for seats on the upper level so we could enjoy the views. The narrow stairs can be a challenge to maneuver with bulky luggage, so keep that in mind when packing. Spacious, reclining seats offer plenty of leg room and have adjustable footrests, a nice upgrade from my SUV or standard air travel! My kids enjoyed the freedom to move about the train car for a different view or to stretch their legs while securing snacks from the café car, which boasts breakfast sandwiches, cinnamon rolls, coffee, burgers, candy and more.

The train arrived in Fort Worth just after noon, which left us plenty of time to explore the nearby sites. Fort Worth Central Station is located within the Sundance Square neighborhood, which offers a complimentary trolley, Molly the Trolley, that runs daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Plus, a number of hotels near the station are accessible via the trolley. The Sundance Square area is pedestrian-friendly with walkable options for dining, shopping and sightseeing.

After checking in to our hotel, we took a metro bus to the iconic Fort Worth Stockyards, a national historic district showcasing the area’s importance to the cattle industry and the Chisholm Trail. Fort Worth got its nickname, Cowtown, from the millions of cattle and cowboys that stopped in for rest and to restock supplies before crossing the Red River into Indian Territory.

The brick buildings and walkways and wooden corrals connect visitors to a bygone area. Twice daily at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., crowds line the sidewalks to watch as cowhands drive a herd of Longhorn cattle down the heart of the district.

58 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024
FORT WORTH STOCKYARDS CAME TO FAME AT THE HEIGHT OF THE CHISHOLM TRAIL. TODAY, COWHANDS DRIVE A HERD DOWN EXCHANGE AVENUE TWICE A DAY. THE HEARTLAND FLYER WAS NAMED BY 11-YEAR-OLD KATIE MOORE THROUGH A CONTEST HOSTED BY OKLAHOMA SEN. DON NICKLES. PHOTO PROVIDED BY AMTRAK.

Other must-see attractions include: John Wayne – An American Experience, a 10,000-square-foot exhibit dedicated to the life and legacy of the American actor and Western film icon, The Duke; Stockyards Championship Rodeo at the Cowtown Coliseum on Friday and Saturday nights; and the Cattlepen Maze, a 5,400-square-foot, open air labyrinth of wooden pathways, near the Stockyards Station Mall, in addition to lots of Western ware shops and restaurants. Country music fans can enjoy live music at the cattle barn turned world’s largest honky tonk, Billy Bob’s Texas. While families are welcome, the venue is geared more toward adults. After a long and fun-filled day, we returned to our hotel for some much-needed rest.

Day 2

Explore the modern West

Following an energizing breakfast at Corner Bakery Café, we set out to see the sights in Sundance Square, which include art galleries and museums, Circle Theatre and Sundance Square Plaza with the Chisholm Trail mural and Instagram worthy “disco cowboy hat” as dubbed by TikTok users, a half-ton sculpture covered in thousands of small mirrors.

Just a few blocks southeast is another must-see. Fort Worth Water Gardens is an architectural marvel designed by Phillip Johnson, who also designed the much-acclaimed Amon Carter Museum of American Art, another must-see Fort Worth attraction. The secluded oasis offers a surprising escape from the expected city sights. Three water features act as centerpieces of the urban park – the Quiet Pool, a sunken reflecting pool; the Aerated Pool filled with 40 spraying fountains; and the active pool, a concrete canyon with rushing water. We walked down to view the active pool and climbed atop a towering concrete mesa called the Mountain.

METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024 59
RESTAURANTS AND ATTRACTIONS, INCLUDING JOHN WAYNE: AN AMERICAN EXPERIENCE AND STOCKYARDS CHAMPIONSHIP RODEO. THE ACTIVE POOL AT THE WATER GARDENS IS A 38-FEET-DEEP CONCRETE CANYON WITH WATER RUSHING ON ALL SIDES. KNOWN LOCALLY AS THE “DISCO COWBOY HAT,” THIS HALF-TON SCULPTURE GETS ITS SHINY FINISH FROM THOUSANDS OF SMALL MIRRORS. PHOTO BY VISIT FORT WORTH

Exploring Beyond Oklahoma

Day 3

Go wild at the Fort Worth Zoo

Since our return departure was not until the early evening, we had plenty of time on our last day for more exploring. Make plans to stow your luggage after checking out of your hotel; some hotels will hold your bags, or for a small fee, you can store your bags at the train station.

Our last day was all about the Fort Worth Zoo! Ranked as a top zoo by USA Travel Guide and FamilyFun magazine, the Fort Worth Zoo is home to more than 500 species and 7,000 animals. Shady, winding pathways lead you around the zoo’s diverse habitats. The zoo’s newest habitat, Predators of Asia & Africa, lets visitors get up close to some of the most skilled hunters in the animal kingdom. We climbed aboard a stationary safari bus to spy on a napping lion pride with a young cub, resting in the afternoon sun.

Consider joining the Heartland Flyer Kids Club! A $10 membership includes a Heartland Flyer T-shirt and a certificate good for a complimentary round trip. Learn more at amtrak.com/heartlandflyer.

Inside Elephant Springs, you can walk along a floating “village” as you explore the multiple yards and water holes within the animal enclosure. Water sprayers allow guests to interact with the elephants by spraying streams of water, just like you have a trunk of your own.

The African Savanna showcases giraffes, hippos, ostriches and meerkats. Exotic and endangered reptiles and amphibians abound in the Museum of Living Art. Plus, check out native wildlife in Texas Wild!

60 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024
DON’T MISS THE DINOSAUR EXHIBITS AT THE FORT WORTH MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND HISTORY. PHOTO BY NICK UTTER. IN ELEPHANT SPRINGS, VISITORS CAN INTERACT WITH THE ELEPHANTS BY SPRAYING STREAMS OF WATER. IN THE CULTURAL DISTRICT, VISIT THE NATIONAL COWGIRL MUSEUM AND HALL OF FAME. PHOTO BY LEO WESSON.

After a full day of exploring, we relaxed over dinner

The Woodshed Smokehouse, which features an everrotating selection of beef, chicken, pork, wild game, fish and vegetables, all cooked over a variety of woods and fire sources. The restaurant sits on the banks of Trinity River so the courtyard provides beautiful views alongside their delicious menu. With full bellies, tired feet and sweet memories, we

Editor’s note: Kids ages 2 to 12 ride aboard the Heartland Flyer for 50 percent off when accompanied by an adult (restrictions apply). Learn more at amtrak.com/

Vote for your Family Favorites

Your nominations are in and the finalists are chosen! Now it’s time to vote to determine the winners.

Vote daily through May 15 and each time you do, you’ll be eligible to win a family staycation, including a 2-night stay at The Ellison Hotel, breakfast at Milo and general admission and Wild Encounters tickets to the OKC Zoo.

The Ellison, Oklahoma City, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel
metrofamilymagazine.com/family-favorites  METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024 61
Vote May 1-15 at
THE FORT WORTH ZOO IS HOME TO 540 SPECIES INCLUDING GIRAFFES, PENGUINS AND CHEETAHS.
SPONSORED BY

Parent Pundits

Bite-sized wisdom from local parent contributors

I admire the strength, resilience, patience and courage my mother showed during the war. She kept her family in the forefront of her mind, as she still does today, both a leader and a servant to many. I enjoy finding her strength within myself and sharing in the power of other mothers around me.

In honor of Mother’s Day, Sasha Hughes shares a powerful tribute to her mom, who escaped war in Liberia with a toddler and while pregnant. Read how her mother’s story inspires Sasha’s passion to empower and honor other moms in the metro here. 

62 METROFAMILYMAGAZINE.COM / MAY-JUNE 2024
Look
Last
Sasha is a proud Liberian woman now living in OKC. She is a wife, mother, lifestyle influencer and content creator. She loves spending time with her family, cooking, helping people and celebrating motherhood.

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. metrolibrary.org/summerreading •

METROPOLITAN LIBRARY SYSTEM
#IReadBecause
SUMMER READING Program 2024
June 1 - July 31

Join us for a celebration of family health and wellness! Enjoy dozens of family fun activities and connect with local resources promoting physical health, mental wellness, nutrition and safety.

Register in advance and save! For kids 2-17, tickets are $5 in advance or $8 at the door. Adults and kids under 2 are free. Plus, when you register early you’ll receive a 10-day YMCA pass and be entered for a chance to WIN a YMCA membership!

Hosted by YMCA of Greater OKC and Edmond Parks & Recreation Register at metrofamilymagazine.com/thrive-fest.

June 1 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mitch Park YMCA
Marilyn Williams Dr, Edmond
Saturday,
2901
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