Favorite Colony Days memory? Watching the parade with my youngest child.
Least favorite Colony Days memory? Watching the parade with my youngest child.
There’s something about outdoor community festivals that brings out the best and worst in small children. After so many years as a parent, I finally have a game plan down. And in honor of Palmer’s biggest community festival this weekend, here are a few tips to surviving all the fun:
1. Park close to the action. The fewer blocks you have to walk towing a screaming toddler, the better. The parking lots behind Valley Hotel are always a great bet.
2. Go early to avoid long lines. The petting zoo opens at 11 a.m. on Friday and is a really popular stop for the under-six crowd. Not to mention the bounce house, the hay rides on Saturday…you get the idea. And FYI: South Alaska Street fills quickly on Saturday before the parade. Go early. Bring a chair and a bag for all the candy.
3. Plan your route. Decide what’s not to be missed – the reindeer petting, or mannequin head bowling or face painting, all on Saturday? – and prioritize with a nice mix of adult and child-friendly activities.
4. Pay it forward. Someday your child will be in activities that cost a lot of money, and you’ll be delighted when the community contributes. For example, Palmer wrestling is sponsoring kids’ games in conjunction with Usibelli coal mine this year. The Palmer Food Bank is also collecting donations at Just Sew all weekend.
5. Cute photo op: The Lady Bug Lady is hosting an art project – painting rocks like lady bugs! – followed by a mass release of lady bugs into the garden next to the Palmer Visitor Center at 2 p.m. Saturday.
6. Look for free stuff. The congregation of St. John Lutheran Church is hosting a community picnic, complete with hot dogs and drinks, from noon-3 p.m. Saturday. Stick around until 2 p.m. to delight your child with falling moose poop, as the Kiwanis hosts their Moose Poop Palooza drop at 2 p.m. There’s also free face painting offered by Church on the Rock, and free music concerts all day Saturday.
7. Save the best for last. My youngest is obsessed with trains. It’s the only time he’ll stand in one spot for longer than 15 seconds. That miniature train setup at the Palmer depot is a great motivator when his behavior slides south. For race car fans, there’s the pinewood derby race hosted by Cub Scout Pack 354 at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Mat-Su Borough gym.
8. Leave while everyone is still happy. Colony Days lasts all weekend. If naptime interferes before you see it all, no worries. Just come back tomorrow.