Friday, 22 March 2013 10:03

The Land of the Free

Written by  Missy Black
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The following events require zero dollars. So keep that wallet right in your jeans or purse. OK, you might incur some parking fees at the library or drop cash for popcorn at the movies but for the most part, our free April event round up provides a group of activities sans cover charge. It feels good to say you took the kids out, had fun and still have as much moolah as when you left the house. It feels good to be free—with your children, your emotions and your time. This month's lesson is in: zilch!

SPEED PAINTER MARTINA HAAN
Herrick District Library
300 South River Ave., Holland
April 2, 2-5 p.m.
Free
herrickdl.org, (616) 355-3100

Spring Break programming is here with a visit from speed painter Martina Haan. Her theme is Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar. "We try to be cutting edge," said Youth Services Manager Molly Rios. "We have to keep it fresh with kids. We have to be the public place where everybody wants to go. We have to be relevant." At no cost and for those small ones interested in art, this event featuring a beloved author's work is all about transformation and children "won't know what to expect until they see the finished product." This live painting demonstration is a huge something for nothing (and speedy too). Also slated for the spring break slump is a Pete the Cat character visit on April 4 at 10 a.m.

GREENATHON EARTH DAY FESTIVAL
Celery Flats
7335 Garden Lane, Portage
April 27, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Free
portagemi.gov, (269) 329-4512

Just bring your enthusiasm for being green as your ticket of admission to the Greenathon Earth Day Festival at Celery Flats. The event includes live music, games, activities and exhibits for children that provides education about environmental ideas to use at home and opportunities to volunteer for "green" causes. Kids are able to meet other individuals who are committed to a clean environment and all of this costs a big, whopping nothing. "Younger children really love getting their free tree," says Sujay Dewan, chairperson of the Portage Youth Advisory Committee. "This event allows the youth to grasp the concepts of being green in the community." Another big hit with the kids is Portage mascot, Mr. Crispy, a large animated piece of celery that entertains. A little education goes a long way and this celebration shows how being green can be useful and fun for all ages. The City of Portage Youth Advisory Committee—appointed by the city council of Portage, sponsors the event. The committee is made up of youths serving a one-year term, representing the voices of youths in the community and exposing them to local government.

SPRING BREAK FUN: GEODES
Grand Rapids Public Library Van Belkum Branch, Grand Rapids
1563 Plainfield NE
April 5, 2 p.m.
Free
grpl.org, (616) 988-5410

Rough and tumble boys get permission to break something at the Grand Rapids Public Library. Join geologist Steve Tchozeski of Great Lakes GeoScience to learn about the mysteries of geodes. "Geodes are fascinating," said Communications Manager Kristen Krueger-Corrado. "They look like a rock and you crack them open and there are beautiful crystals inside." Participants will select a geode, break it open, explore inside and take it home with them. "You learn how they're formed and how to find a geode when you're on a walk." This hands-on activity is a fun way to educate children about environmental science. Dates are also available April 2 at 2 p.m. at the West Side Branch, April 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the Madison Square Branch and another timeslot for April 5 is at 10:30 a.m. at the Ottawa Hills Branch. For kids 12 and under.

FREE SPRING MOVIES: PARANORMAN
Grand Haven 9
17220 Hayes Street, Grand Haven
April 20 & 21, 9 & 10 a.m.
Free
gqti.com, (616) 844-7469

Pop in a movie and you can get some peace and quiet. Parents, am I right, or am I right? Round up your brood and take them to the Grand Haven 9 so the littles can catch a good show (while you secretly pin on Pinterest or sort through e-mails on your phone). This free movie service is provided "To get families to come in that might not be able to afford a movie," said Manager Dusten VanZyll. "We want families to come in and enjoy a good adventure." ParaNorman is an adorable, animated zombie comedy that even parents can appreciate. Other movie features include Hotel Transylvania on April 6 and 7, Pirates! Band of Misfits on April 13 and 14 and The Lorax on April 27 and 28. Tickets are first come, first serve so get them while you can because everyone loves movie time.

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