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County offers summer family fun at its parks

The free park events give families a chance to sing and dance to music, and experience parks within the county.

It’s tough to be in a pickle during the summer wondering what to do, but not wanting to spend any money. Gloucester County’s Parks and Recreation Department is making sure there’s something free to do with their abundance of family-friendly shows occurring nearly every week.

“We try to hold several [shows] throughout the summer in various parks. There are eight fun shows scheduled this summer,” said Director of Public Information Debra Selitto.

The Family Fun Shows are scheduled at James G. Atkinson Memorial Park in Washington Township, Fasola Park in Deptford, Dream Park in Logan and Chestnut Branch Park in Mantua.

All shows are free and open to the public, and the county’s been hosting them for the past 15 years.

“The family fun shows were created by the county to provide an experience the entire family could enjoy together,” said Freeholder James Lavender, who’s the liaison to the parks and recreation department. “Getting the kids up and out, and into the parks is a great way for parents and caretakers to enjoy an hour of free entertainment.”

Selitto added, in every one of the Family Fun Shows, music is always included in some fashion.

She said the freeholders wanted to expand the county’s existing parks program in addition to the free movies to “encourage families to utilize the parks system.” Gloucester County has four county-owned parks – including the equestrian-centered Dream Park – and more than 20 municipality-owned parks.

The people in the county’s parks department research the shows they’ll put on and book the talent accordingly. Some return year after year, such as Yosi, who is a “perennial favorite.”

In Washington Township, a KCC Variety Magic Act is scheduled for July 19, beginning at 6 p.m. There, children will be entertained by “Kevin the Magician” with his “silly and goofy” magic act.

At Deptford’s Fasola Park, the county is welcoming Safari Sam and Choo Choo Magic Train Show at 10:30 a.m., Aug. 1 and 22, respectively.

The Gloucester County Dream Park in Logan will have Seussology and Lee’s Circus Extravaganza at 10:30 a.m. on July 17 and Aug. 7, respectively.

Mantua’s Chestnut Branch Park will have Captain Shazamshazoobop on July 23 and Blue Frances Musical Medleys on Aug. 13, both at 10:30 a.m.

With most of the shows happening in the mornings, it gives families and camps the opportunity to start their days singing, dancing and enjoying the outdoors.

The shows, Lavender added, are also purposely located throughout the county to give all residents the chance to experience them without having to travel far or to change their day’s plans to accommodate for the showings.

“Our parks system is a jewel in the crown of the county,” Lavender said. “We offer a lot in the way of education, nature programs, and family entertainment and we want our residents to use our parks and enjoy them.”

Aside from the Family Fun Shows, the county also hosts a number of free movie nights and concerts in nearly every part of the county for residents and their families to enjoy. To view a list of upcoming events, visit www.GloucesterCountyNJ.gov and click “Parks and Recreation” in the “Departments” drop-down menu.

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