***Note: The Laredo Family Events Guide is currently being updated to reflect new businesses and activities we have found, as well as changes to activity calendars at the Library, Imaginarium and other places*****
This is the write-up in the Family Events Guide. The guide is not included in this post but is viewable at the Laredo Family Time Magazine website (www.laredofamilytimemagazine.com). It is available for purchase as a .pdf file you can download to your computer or for delivery to your home. Many thanks go to Heidi Calhoun-Lopez who helped research the activities available, and who dragged her kids around town to test them out with me!
The scanned article in print is at the bottom of this post- but it’s tough to read as an image.
I started to feel that sinking feeling the other day. I think every Laredo parent has felt it at least once, if not a lot. “What, oh what, am I going to do with the kids today?” When I was new to Laredo, I planned my weeks out a little haphazardly and unsuccessfully: The Imaginarium on Monday, the Planetarium on Tuesday, and the Library on Wednesday. What I found was that I was a day late to the Imaginarium and that we had missed Toddler Story hour at the library while I and my disappointed kids stood outside of a locked planetarium. I learned quickly that in a small city, it is important to be tuned into our resources, especially some of its more esoteric offerings: the tree-lined trails that make you forget that you are in the middle of civilization, impressive art exhibits by student artists, professionals and special-needs children in local galleries, and even an often over-looked mini-zoo right here in our midst where baby alligators swim among lily pads. I wanted a list of what Laredo had to offer, with the important details, like “When”, “Where” and “How much?” I didn’t find one. But my very excellent friends helped make one. They didn’t just help make it; they tested it tirelessly and with tremendous spirit as we shot around town with all of our kids resembling aimless ping pong balls. In the end, we gathered a lot of information and managed to provide our children with some great experiences and stimulating activity.
I need to note that I wasn’t interested in pinpointing every monthly and seasonal activity or workshop that constantly changes. There are lots of one-day or one-week only events that are truly great. We should take advantage of those opportunities whenever we can. It’s fabulous when the Kite Festival, the rodeo, Summer Science Camp, Elmo or the pumpkin patch is in town. When those types of variable events happen, it’s easy to plan our days and weeks. I wanted to know what I could do with my kids when we found ourselves lingering in a rare void of new and cool stuff to do.
Once my friends and I started to look at Laredo differently, the discoveries mounted. A phone call to the Environmental Science Center to learn more about its nature trail led to an even bigger discovery: a little zoo. We don’t call it a zoo in Laredo, of course. We call it the Lamar Bruni Vergara Environmental Science Center. But there are lots of indigenous animals and plants, ponds, wildlife exhibits and information sheets. It’s a small, shaded, and very well maintained mini-zoo. And I found it by complete and ecstatic accident. A good friend and I walked around it speechless, thrilled, and a tad irritated that we had lived in Laredo for a year and had been clueless such a gem existed within ten miles of our homes. The experience gave us positive perspective that, surely, there was more to be found. And, there was. Lake Casa Blanca International State Park was another exhilarating find. Our kids ran up and down the fishing pier overlooking a transcendently beautiful lake. We finished up with a picnic of sandwiches and grapes at the kiddies park while our children wore themselves out. My friend and I sat in wonder of the park, much as we had done days before at the Lamar Bruni Vergara “zoo”. She was pensive as we gathered our things and our children to leave. She stopped and in her bewilderment, she said something profound. “You know, it is just unbelievable. For the price of a latte, we can have ALL THIS. No, I think this is cheaper than a latte!”
Below, you’ll find many recurring events and activities that occur year-round in Laredo that we can generally expect to be open on the given days and times. The list that follows is certainly not all-inclusive of the many great things to do in Laredo, but it’s a start. Who knew that the Disney Store in the mall hosted free princess tea parties? Or that Michaels offers craft workshops for kids each month? I have to thank those friends who helped to build this list. If only research could always be this fun. We’d all stay in school forever. If you have suggestions for places or events to add to this resource, or updates to existing entries, send your suggestion to firstname.lastname@example.org . In the meantime, all of this “research” has been blissfully exhausting. It’s time now for a toast of organic apple juice…on the rocks. Here’s to safe play and wondrous discovery!