Hibernation is finally over and Chicago families are ready to get out of the house to get their play on and there’s no better place than Chicago Parent’s Spring Playdate at the Athletico Center in Northbrook this Sunday, April 29. Many exciting entertainers will be on hand to help little ones (and their adults) laugh, learn and get their groove on.
Ooohs and aaaahs
From juggling to unicycling to amazing acrobatics, CircEsteem performances grab attention. And jaws drop when those watching realize the performers range in age from 12-17. “When younger kids see older kids doing something cool, it seems a lot more attainable to them,” says Scott Merchant, director of operations for CircEsteem. “We are looking forward to causing some big oohs and aahs.”
Seeing favorite characters in person is another sure-fire way to impress kids, and Melissa Duncan, co-founder of Royal Princess Parties, says, “Royal Princess Parties has invited some special guests” to the Playdate. “Beauty and Cinderella will take the stage for a fun-filled time along with everyone’s favorite neighborhood Spider. Kids will sing-along with Royal Princesses and train with a real Superhero!”
Kids are always pretty wowed when they finally get to see themselves in the mirror after having their face painted by Family-ism Face Paint. Founder Denise Brown says those “lit-up smiles on their faces as they gaze at their reflections” are what motivates her and her team of artists to go beyond the typical butterflies and rainbows and “to give each child a piece of art that they don’t want to wash off.” They use 100 percent vegan face paint that is non-toxic and hypo-allergenic as well as nut- and gluten-free so all kids can join in.
The chance to pet one of the five miniature therapy horses from Mane in Heaven is another opportunity for kids to get hands-on. “They’re just 29 inches tall, so they’re tiny, and they are also super cute and magical to look at,” explains Dina Morgan, president of Mane in Heaven, a nonprofit organization. In addition to petting, kids can help brush and even hug the horses, though riding them is not an option due to their small size. That size works to their advantage, however, with kids. “Even the smallest kid is comfortable with them,” Morgan says. If the weather cooperates, the horses will be outside and kids can help tandem walk them.
Plus, Chicago Parent’s favorite guru of play, The Playground Games, is bringing new ways for kids to have fun, including Connect 3 Basketball and Hippo Chow Down. Of course, it wouldn’t be a playdate without bubble soccer and bounce houses so plan to bounce. A lot.
Lots of learning
Some of the Playdate performers make sure that kids can simultaneously do the two things they do best – learn and have fun.
The WTTW Kids Big Idea performance is “one way we can bring the magic of PBS television directly into the community,” according to Grace Winston, senior account executive at WTTW. The performance covers a wide range of topics, keeping kids engaged the whole time. “It is a thrill to have children and caregivers join us in exploring interesting topics like recycling, life cycle, and emotions in an atmosphere that’s all about entertaining kids as well as educating them. “
Stuart Jacobson of The Stu Show describes himself as “Shel Silverstein meets Art Linklatter performed by Bob Dylan.” Through songs and a highly interactive show, he encourages kids to be kind, be positive and to read. He struggled with reading as a kid and encourages kids to remember that any kind of reading that appeals to them is good. He points out that not only does it develop their brain, it helps kids become into interesting, likeable people.
We may be biased, but we have to agree with Duncan when she says, “The Chicago Parent Playdate is a wonderful opportunity to explore all things family.”
If you go
Chicago Parent Playdate
10 a.m.-3 p.m. April 29
Athletico Center, 1900 Old Willow Road, Northbrook