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South Holland has much to offer for family fun

2013-05-13T00:00:00Z South Holland has much to offer for family funMary Ann Thornton Times Columnist nwitimes.com
May 13, 2013 12:00 am  • 

From time to time I hear parents say there is nothing for their kids to do in South Holland. Quality time with, and activities for, your kids can be enjoyed in the village, and the best part is it doesn’t have to cost a cent.

This all became very clear to me last week as I enjoyed a three-mile walk with my family and our dog. It’s a great time to connect and reflect on our day’s experiences, exercise as a family, and enjoy the beauty of our community. This is, indeed, something to do.

Beyond a leisure walk around town, South Holland has 31 parks equipped with fun slides, swings and more. Go ahead ... pick one. At some park sites, families can enjoy tennis, running/walking paths, hockey rinks, softball and baseball fields, and beautiful gardens. There is no fee required for parents to spend a Saturday afternoon in the park with their children. Grab your kids and a group of their friends for an exciting game of softball at Veterans Memorial or Gouwens Park, or pack a basket for an impromptu picnic at Paarlberg Park.

It’s so awesome when I see a group of young people playing a spirited game of soccer or families flying kites in the parks. When was the last time you took your kids out to fly a kite or run through the park with a butterfly net in search of nature’s most beautiful creatures?

Movies in the Park, scheduled June 15, July 20, and Aug. 31 at Veterans Memorial Park, is late evening entertainment for the entire family. Take a walk through the weekly Town Center Marketplace — South Holland’s Farmers Market — from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays beginning June 28 through Sept. 27. The market, located at the northeast corner of 162nd Street and South Park Avenue, provides an opportunity for families to enjoy the freshest produce from Blankenship Farms and Zeldenrust Farm Stand, baked goods by Kandee, vegan and vegetarian breakfast cuisines by Early Bird, hot pizza slices from the South Holland Aurelio’s, grilled burgers and hotdogs prepared to order by Home Plate Grill, specialty coffee drinks by Expresso Express, and so much more.

South Holland summer festivals come with a promise of activities for the whole family to enjoy. The annual Memorial Day parade kicks off the series of staple community events, followed by the Independence Day celebration and Heritage Festival. Camel rides, live music, softball games, and an art gallery are just a few of the free activities to enjoy during these events.

I believe the Sand Ridge Nature Center is the best kept secret in the south suburbs. Explore the wonders of the center’s 235 acres of hiking trails through various habitats, including prairies, marshes and ponds, oak savannahs and woodlands on ancient beaches and sand dunes. Sand Ridge, at 15891 Paxton Ave., offers all kinds of special events and cultural programs. The center’s Earth Day Celebration, through fun activities, reminds our children of the importance of being kind to our planet. In September, the Native American culture is explored on Illinois Archaeology Day, and Settlers’ Day, in November, features costumed re-enactors from French fur trading days through the American Revolution, pioneers, and the Civil War.

If you’re more comfortable indoors, the South Holland Public Library is an excellent option. The library, at 16252 Wausau Ave., offers interactive activities, many of which are free of charge. “Let’s Go Lego-ing!,” “Musical Story Go Round,” Junior Artists, Computer Boot Camp, and “Paws to Read” are some of the library’s most popular youth activities. Something new is popping up all the time, so visit the library’s website for the most recent list of programs — southhollandlibrary.org.

The search for youth and family activities doesn’t have to be exhaustive, complicated or a source of concern due to financial constraints. Engaging activities can be found through a trip to the local library, area parks, the local nature center, or a simple walk in the community. Enjoy!

The opinions are solely those of the writer. Mary Ann Thornton is communications manager for the village of South Holland. She can be reached at mat39@comcast.net.

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