Category Archives: Family-Friendly Activities

Grapevine Rotary Rubber Duck Race scheduled for Sept. 10

Screen Shot 2020-08-02 at 8.35.58 AMJoin us this September 10th as the Grapevine Rotary Club hosts the 3rd Annual Rubber Duck Race in the Lazy River at The REC of Grapevine.

Thousands of free-spirited yellow rubber ducks will be dropped into The REC Lazy River where they will race to see who is the fastest.

The event will take place from 5-7pm at The REC of Grapevine in fair or Fowl weather!

The winning Duck will earn $1,000, second place wins $500 and third place wins $250.

100% of all proceeds support the Grapevine Rotary Club community programs, such as scholarships for high school seniors, Computers for Kids, Special Olympics, RYLA, Feed Our Kid and American Flags on Main Street.

Every year, Grapevine Rotary Club awards as many scholarships as possible to qualified graduating senior applicants. The impact of these awards for the students in our areas is amazing. In April, we awarded 16 of these scholarships in the amount of $1500 each from the proceeds of our 2019 Duck Race.  

ChuckAll of the ducks are churning up the water to get back in their best racing form after eating too much during quarantine (except for Chuck, who is lounging around the pool. He’s “supervising”).

For more information or to adopt a duck, visit https://grapevinerotaryduckrace.com/ or email grapevinerubberduckrace@gmail.com.

Here’s hoping your duck wins!

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Download the flyer HERE (.pdf)

38th Annual July 4th Fireworks Extravaganza

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NOTE: If attending the 38th Annual July 4th Fireworks Extravaganza in person, face masks are required and must be worn at all times. Parking permitted in designated lots only.

On Saturday, July 4, celebrate the red, white and blue at Grapevine’s 38th Annual July 4th Fireworks Extravaganza. This is Grapevine’s biggest fireworks display to date, shooting the largest shells ever fired. This free 24-minute fireworks spectacular over Lake Grapevine begins at 9:30 p.m. and is set to patriotic music, The fireworks display is the perfect way to celebrate America’s birthday and this will be Grapevine’s biggest display to date!

Go to special soundtrack to accompany the show!

For more information about Grapevine’s Fourth of July activities, call 817-410-3185.

Lake Parks Viewing Areas

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  • Oak Grove Park
    o    Oak Grove Baseball Field ($10 per car entry fee)
    o    Minnow Loop (Drop-off Only) 
    o    Trawick Pavilion ($10 per car entry fee)
    o    Oak Grove Soccer Complex ($10 per car entry fee)
    o    McPherson Slough (No fee)
    o    Oak Grove Softball Complex (Boat traffic only)
  • Rockledge Park ($20 per car entry fee, card only, no cash)
  • Scott’s Landing Marina  (Private parking & cash only)
  • Silver Lake Park by Silver Lake Marina (Private parking & cash only)

Due to capacity limitations, cars will not be allowed to leave and re-enter the park without paying an additional fee.

Viewing Areas/Parking

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VIEWING AREAS WITH RESTRICTED ACCESS:

  • The Vineyards Campground & Cabins (Accessible to guests only with pre-scheduled reservations for that Friday night. Gates are closed to general public. Click here to make your reservation)

LAKE PARKS WITH LIMITED VIEWING:

  • Lakeview Park ($10 per car entry fee, card only, no cash)
  • Meadowmere Park ($10 per car entry fee, card only, no cash)

OTHER LOCATIONS:

  • Hotel Vin / Grapevine Main Parking Garage – 255 E. Dallas Rd. (No fee)

Read more HERE.

Grapevine steps back to its prehistoric roots

By Stacey Doud

DinoSignGrapevine Parks & Rec is once again transforming the Botanical Gardens into Jurassic Park (without all the violence) from March 21 until April 5. This exhibit honors Lake Grapevine’s place in the Woodbine Formation, which consists predominately of sandstones and shales, and occurs in exposed outcrops in north central Texas and southern Oklahoma,

Called Jurassic Gardens, visitors can enjoy and learn about the many animatronic, life-size dinosaurs that once roamed the land they’re standing on. There are many other activities, such as a “bone dig,” some simple carnival games and many opportunities for learning.

The cost is $10 per person, with children 2 and under receiving FREE admission. Tickets go on sale Sunday, March 1, 2020 at https://gograpevine.com/event/jurassicgardens/.

But wait! There’s more!

After the sun goes down, visitors can experience the exhibits in a whole new “light” during Dinos After Dark. On Fridays, special guests will give special presentations about paleontology. On Saturday nights, popular dinosaur movies will be shown. Beer and wine will be available for purchase.

Both activities will be held from 7pm – 10pm and the cost is $10 per person (children under 2 are free).

The Movie Line-Up:

Jurassic Gardens Basic Info:

  • When: March 21 – April 5, 2020
  • Where: Grapevine Botanical Gardens, 411 Ball Street
  • Times: Monday – Friday: 12pm – 6pm; Saturday and Sunday: 9am – 6pm

For more information, directions and tickets (after March 1), visit Grapevine Parks & Rec.

Grapevine, TX: Not JUST ‘The Christmas Capital of Texas’ Part 1: Hotels

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Photo Courtesy of Grapevine CVB

It may still be a bit cold and rainy in Grapevine, TX, but that doesn’t stop us from having fun! The Christmas Capital of Texas is also a must-see town all year long, with several festivals and more vendors, stores and entertainment venues than I can count!

Keep reading to get a peek into what’s worth it (on a budget), what’s family-friendly and what’s the most fun – all from a local resident!

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If you’re coming to town with no real agenda, make sure you stop at the Grapevine Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, located at 436 S. Main St., which is the “main drag” here in Grapevine. The knowledgable folks there will be able to give you advice and literature to tailor-make your vacation into what you want it to be.

The Usuals – Hotels:

Of course, Grapevine is famous for the Gaylord Texan Resort and the Great Wolf Lodge year-round. If you’re planning a vacation at either of these venues, check sites like GrouponGrapevine CVB and the venue’s site to learn about any deals or specials that are going on.

Both venues are located minutes from the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport (DFW). If you fly into Love Field, I’d recommend renting a car with a GPS if you’re not familiar with the area. There’s lots of construction going on on the highways and many drivers never replace their “blinker fluid.” 🙂

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The Gaylord Texan Resort

The Skinny: The Gaylord Texan is hard to beat. No matter what time of year it is, they always have something special going on. They recently installed a water park to compete with Great Wolf – it’s smaller than the Wolf, but there are less children running around and all of the amenities are first-class, but so are the prices. The Gaylord is operated by Marriott, so if you are a Marriott Rewards member, you can cash in your chips for discounts, free rooms, etc.

The Great Wolf is, well, full of children. The amazing indoor/outdoor waterpark and inside games guarantee that your little one (and probably you, too) will have a blast! You can go get breakfast in the morning in your pajamas, have all kinds of souvenirs made, and the kiddos can play “MagiQuest,” which is described on the Great Wolf website as such:

Explore the lodge and take part in the adventure of a lifetime! MagiQuest turns Great Wolf Lodge into a live-action game where you’re the star. You’ll choose a special magic wand, top it with extra powers, and set off on a quest. Play for a few minutes or all day. Be sure to take your wand home and continue your adventure on your next trip to Great Wolf Lodge.

Or “ShadowQuest:”

Take your quest to the next level, young Magi! We need your help to battle the Shadowlord and collect runes in this challenging interactive adventure. The ShadowQuest guidebook provides secrets and clues to help you cast spells and complete your mission to save the light before it vanishes forever. When you succeed, you’ll receive a medal for your courage!

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Photo Courtesy of the Great Wolf Lodge

The rooms can be fun, with a separate area for the kids that resembles a treehouse, while the adults have a traditional King or 2 Queen bed set-up adjacent to the bunk beds. Of course, “regular” rooms are also offered, housing one King or two Queen beds and no bunks.

The bottom line is if you don’t want to be surrounded by children, then skip Great Wolf. Go to the Gaylord or the many hotels located in Grapevine, such as the Embassy SuitesHyatt PlaceHilton Garden Inn or Springhill Suites. There are also plenty of motels – Super 8 and Motel 6 being among them.

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Photo Courtesy of the Great Wolf Lodge

Restaurants abound in these areas, so you can have your pick of whatever you’re craving. For some guidance on local fare, click HERE.

NEXT: LOCAL DELIGHTS THAT YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF

Texas Renaissance Festival announces multi-year expansion with new pirate museum, giant slide

By Rebecca Hennes

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Photo: Texas Renaissance Festival

The Texas Renaissance Festival recently announced it will expand its enchanted forest area with two large attractions come the 2020 season.

The festival is the largest Renaissance-themed-event in the nation and attracts nearly half a million visitors each year, according to the event website.   Located about an hour’s drive north of Houston in Todd Mission, the nine-weekend event features hundreds of shops, performers, musicians and dancers set on a 55-acre, 16th-century European-inspired village.

For more information, visit https://www.texrenfest.com/.

North Texas Comic Book Show offers thrills for collectors and Cosplayers … and Deadpool’s hiney

The North Texas Comic Book Show was held February 15 and 16 at the Irving Las Colinas Convention Center. This decade-old show caters to comic fans, superhero movie fans and Cosplayers [costume play] of all ages. I was fortunate enough to get a peek behind the scenes.

The Show featured the comic writers and artists that enable characters such as Spider-Man and Batman to come to life on the page, with many characters eventually making it onto the silver screen.

Attendees come to get autographs, buy comics and character-related merchandise and participate in the Cosplay contest, where they can win cash and prizes.

The electric enthusiasm was in the air, as “fanboys” and “fangirls” got to meet some of their childhood heroes.

“This is actually my first convention ever. It was a great experience,” said attendee James Gadsden. “There were a lot of friendly dealers. Even the other patrons were amazing, helping me out, pointing out deals.”

The Show is the brainchild of Chris Latshaw, who found himself dissatisfied with a comic convention he had attended as a dealer in 2011, and decided to start his own show.

I caught up with Chris and some friends in the VIP lunch room, where the comic celebrities and organizers came to grab a sandwich, a drink or just a much-needed break.

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Jose Delbo clowning around with his family

“This show is my baby,” Latshaw said. “This year, we have the oldest living Batman artist, Joe Giella, who started back before Marvel Comics was even Marvel Comics. We have Jose Delbo, who is another artist who comes from a long time ago. He worked on both the Transformers as well as Wonder Woman and a Western Comic at one time called Billy the Kid. We have Bob Layton, who is famous for Iron Man and has been an integral part of what you see in the movies today. He developed a lot of [what you see on the screen] in the comics,” said Latshaw.

There were many artists, including both niche and well-known, who autographed comics and chatted with attendees.

One of the busiest booths housed Spider-Man artist Randy Emberlin, who is now retired from Marvel Comics.

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Randy Emberlin talks to attendees about his run at Marvel Comics

“I have been drawing since age four,” Emberlin said. “Comics actually taught me how to read, so I was reading at age four as well. I mostly drew stuff that was already in comic form back then. I still have a lot of my stuff from back then. They’re drawn in crayon and stapled to look like comics. It’s hilarious to look at now.

“I started inking Spider-Man at the end of 1988. I did it because Erik Larsen asked me to do it. I had met him years before, when he was a kid. He went to DC [Comics] and then to Marvel and then worked on the Spider-Man books. So, when he asked, I said, ‘I’ll take that hand-up any day!’ That was a book anybody would kill to work on,” Emberlin said.

Emberlin retired from Marvel in 2009 after 24 years of employment and now travels around the nation to comic shows and teaches drawing classes to local Portland students.

The other major offering at the Show was the Cosplay contest, which falls under the command of Jacob Long. “Cosplay is basically costume plus play [acting the character]. We just want people to have fun with it,” said Long.

“I came on board with this show in 2014. Cosplay is a natural extension of mainstream media, but it’s also an extension out of comics,” Long explained.

“There’s a community of about 6,000 Cosplayers, mostly based in North Texas,” Long told me. “We are all part of a community called North Texas Cosplay. I’ve been involved in Cosplay since 2012 and I am actively involved behind the scenes.”

The Cosplay contest was different from other contests in that the contestants did not have to be “pre-judged” to enter. Pre-judging in other competitions include minute attention to detail, which excluded many would-be participants.

The contest also emphasized the “theatrical” side of Cosplay. For example, if someone dressed up as Spider-Man, he/she would be judged on the look for the character plus how the contestant stayed in character behavior-wise.

Awards were handed out for best performance, best costume and best in show, which is a combination of both. The adults got cold, hard cash ($100 for first place, $50 for second and third place) and the winning kids got bags full of toys and other goodies.

I was fortunate enough to be able to help out with the contest, directing participants to go to the proper photo spot so the Show photographer could record their appearance for posterity.

The Show is held twice a year in February and July. For more information, visit https://www.comicbooksdallas.com/.

[P.S. I still think Captain America sports America’s Hiney. Sorry, Deadpool]

Santa makes special trips to The REC

Santa is taking some time to come visit Grapevine before he starts his Christmas Eve trip around the world! Come out to The REC and see him!

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For more information, visit GoGrapevine.com

Irving’s Unite for Troops honors veterans, provides for active military during Veteran’s Day event

Unite for Troops, a grassroots non-profit organization, held its 8th Annual Veteran’s Day Celebration on Saturday November 9 in Porter’s Army Navy store parking lot in Irving.

Unite for Troops was founded two days after 9/11 by Cindy Porter, who felt moved to do something to show support for our troops, domestic and abroad.

Volunteers were present to pack donated supplies into boxes to ship around the world. The boxes are decorated on the inside by helpers and kids for an extra morale booster.

“We are shipping supplies to our troops worldwide,” Porter said. “They are asking for more help because, right after 9/11, everyone was supporting them, but very few supplies go over there now. These supplies are going to the most desolate and desperate areas. We are free to do things like this and to live our lives because of our troops.”

The most popularly requested supplies are toiletries, various snacks, socks, batteries, puzzle books, flip flops and over the counter pain relievers, such as Advil and Tylenol.

Four colors of ribbons were available at no charge to pin on attendees’ shirts: Red signified an active soldier, Blue represented a retired member of the military, White indicated a family member or a friend of someone who is or had served, and Golden was a special ribbon for veterans of WWII.

There were plenty of things to do for people of all ages. Musical entertainment included singers and bands on the big stage playing songs that were supportive of all military. BBQ, hamburgers, hot dogs and homemade ice cream were offered.

Kids enjoyed their own area, which featured a petting zoo, crafts, face painting, a bounce house, games and even a reptile exhibit. A bull ride machine was available for all ages who were brave enough to take it on. Canine Companions and the DFW Humane Society also brought both service dogs and dogs available for adoption.

Santa Claus even made a special trip to the event to show his support.

“Santa usually doesn’t come out this early in the year, but he wanted to come out and support the troops. When he heard about it, he said he wanted to stop by in his camos [camouflage] in order to take the love and good wishes back to the troops as he heads back to the North Pole,” Porter said.

Irving Police Department brought vehicles out for kids of all ages to take a look at, including an official city car, as well as a Citizens on Patrol car, a half-track MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle and a drone.

Veterans were encouraged to bring  flags they had that needed a proper retirement, and a ceremony was held to do so in the afternoon.

The Troops of St. George had several fun offerings.

“We are a Catholic scouting organization here in the North Texas area,” said volunteer Paul Thies. “We represent a number of different Catholic parishes in this region. We are out here today to help support our troops in the field and to participate in the [Unite for Troops] Veteran’s Day event.

“With this tent, we are doing a number of things. We have a flag retirement booth, so when people bring their flags in, we will make sure they are properly disposed of [based on rules outlined in the Constitution]. They will be disposed of in the ceremony this afternoon. One of our leaders is raffling off a ride in a M*A*S*H Vietnam/Korean War era Bell 47 helicopter out at the Cavanaugh Air Museum in Addison. The lucky winner will get a 30-minute ride. We’re doing paintball as well. All of these things are to generate donations and 100% of everything collect will go to our troops via Unite for Troops,” Thies explained.

The helicopter was true to the TV show M*A*S*H down to its 4077 tail number.

Vietnam Veteran John Rose had his own booth, as he took over for Santa Claus when Santa had to go back to the North Pole. He said that he enlisted into the Army at age 26 and got sent to Vietnam for a year as part of a reconnaissance effort. Rose and four of his platoon mates lost their radios, so they hunkered down and learned Morse Code as a last-ditch attempt at communication because no one knew where they were. They were stranded for ten days. They finally received directions to a fire base and made it there on foot, where their commanding officers arranged transport home.

“What we started doing after we lost our receiver was to start going to Charlie’s [the enemy’s] supply depots and we started re-supplying ourselves with weapons, ammunition and a lot of rice. When we were done, we left a message for Charlie: We blew it [the supply depot] up,” Rose recalled with a grin.

“We made it to the fire base and we had long beards and nasty hair and we had hardly any sleep. I’m sure we were the sight. But they were happy to see us and we were sure happy to see them!

“After we made it to the fire base, we were all laying on the floor. One of the guys said, ‘Lieutenant, are those guys asleep? They aren’t paying attention.’ The Lt said, ‘They’re asleep, but make sure you don’t make any loud noises because they’ll wake up real fast and be ready to fight!” said Rose.

Fortunately, Rose does not suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) like so many of veterans do. There were several booths at the event collecting donations for programs to help with the transition to “normal” life as well as to fund programs to provide mental health services to veterans who need it.

For more information, visit UniteForTroops.com.

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Special Weekend Service for the 2019 State Fair of Texas

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TRE will operate special weekend schedules during the 2019 State Fair of Texas (see schedules here). The State Fair of Texas is open from Friday, September 27 through Sunday, October 20.

TRE passengers can easily transfer to the Green Line at Victory Station. The fairgrounds are connected to two DART Rail Green Line stations — Fair Park, located on Parry Avenue at the entrance to the fairgrounds, and MLK, Jr., located south of R.B. Cullum Blvd. and convenient to the Gate 6 entrance and the Cotton Bowl Stadium.

Departure times of the last TRE train to Fort Worth:

  • Monday-Thursday: 10:24 p.m. from Union Station and 10:33 p.m. from Victory Station (Last Green Line train to connect to the last TRE train from Victory Station Monday through Thursday is 9:48 p.m. from MLK, Jr. Station and 9:51 p.m. from Fair Park Station.)
  • Friday: 12 midnight from Union Station and 12:05 a.m. from Victory Station (Last Green Line train to connect to the last TRE train from Victory Station Fridays is 11:18 p.m. from MLK, Jr. Station and 11:21 p.m. from Fair Park Station.)
  • Saturdays and Sundays during the fair: 11:30 p.m. from Union Station and 11:35 p.m. from Victory Station. (Last Green Line train to connect to the last TRE train from Victory Station weekends is 11:08 p.m. from MLK, Jr. Station and 11:11 p.m. from Fair Park Station).

View the DART Rail System Map

View more information about DART State Fair service

Save money, hassle: Buy your 2019 State Fair of Texas tickets on the GoPass app
In addition to buying your transit passes, you can also use the GoPass app for Android and iOS smartphones to buy your State Fair of Texas general admission tickets. Show your purchased fair ticket on GoPass at the gates to get in. To make the deal even sweeter, you’ll save two dollars on every fair ticket by using GoPass!

  • Remember: Buy your tickets ahead of time but wait until the day of your visit to the State Fair of Texas to activate your tickets.
  • When approaching the gate, please have your State Fair of Texas GoPass general admission ticket(s) activated and ready to be scanned.

Police/Fire Public Safety Open House Oct. 5

71179915_10162665857215268_1408155218981421056_nMeet your first responders and take part in the Police/Fire Public Safety Open House scheduled to take place on Saturday, October 5 from 11 am – 2 pm in the back parking lot of the Public Safety Building (PSB), 1007 Ira E. Woods Avenue (the front parking lot of the PSB will be reserved for the public).

The Open House event will feature static vehicle displays and demonstrations by fire and police personnel: Patrol, Traffic, CVE, SWAT, K-9, Command Bus, SkyWatch and ATV. This year, the event will feature bounce houses, face painters, a drunk driving simulator, fire extinguisher simulator, a clown show, and vehicle extrication.

Complimentary hot dogs, popcorn, cotton candy, and refreshments will be served. This year’s first combined Police/Fire Open House will be bigger and better than in the years past. Invite your neighbors and friends to join you!