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School is out, pools are open. From what’s happening at local parks to free and cheap kids’ movies, here’s what you need to know.
MATT GENTRY | The Roanoke Times
Starlite Drive-In hosted the movie “Oblivion,” starring Tom Cruise, in early May. Find out the Christiansburg drive-in theater’s film lineup at www.starlitedrivein.info.
The Roanoke Times | File 2012
A swimmer enjoys the slide at last year’s opening of Fallon Park Pool in Roanoke.
Monday, June 3, 2013
GREAT AMERICAN BACKYARD CAMPOUT
The biggest campout in the United States happens June 22, right in your own backyard. The National Wildlife Federation encourages families to sleep under the stars, commune with nature and, if you are so inclined, raise some money for the federation’s programs.
The NWF cites research that has found only one quarter of America’s children play outside every day. Camping is an easy, fun way to get outside. Plus, if the campout is on your own property, you’re never too far from a bathroom or a shower.
Families on my street are planning a big backyard event, during which one lawn will be transformed into a neighborhood campground complete with a campfire, marshmallows and hot dogs. Hopefully, everybody will abide by the quiet hours.
What: Great American Backyard Campout
When: June 22
SEE YOU AT THE MOVIES
When I was a kid during the Mesozoic Era of the 1970s and early ’80s, I saw “Rocky” and “The Empire Strikes Back” at the Bright Leaf Drive-In in Mount Airy, N.C., whose name was inspired by the official cash crop of North Carolina, the golden leaf of tobacco.
The golden age of drive-ins went the way of cigarette advertisements in most communities, as even the Bright Leaf has closed, but word travels slowly here in Southwest Virginia — which is a good thing. At least three drive-ins are within an hour’s drive of Roanoke, including one at Smith Mountain Lake that opened just five years ago.
The Mayberry Drive-In Theatre and Diner in Moneta, the Starlite Drive-In in Christiansburg and Hull’s Drive-In in Lexington all show first-run movies, and all carry the drive-in snack bar staples of popcorn, hot dogs and candy. Coincidentally, Hull’s and the Starlite both sit off U.S. 11, separated by about 75 miles on the famed Lee Highway, which was dotted with drive-ins in the 1950s. The Starlite celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.
If you can’t make it to the drive-in, Roanoke has its own outdoor theater setting during Movies at the Tower at the Wells Fargo building the second Friday of every month.
Where: 2367 Lee Highway, Lexington
Information: 540-463-2618; www.hullsdrivein.com
Mayberry Drive-In Theatre and Diner
Where: 1696 Whitehouse Road, Moneta
Information: 540-296-1480; www.mayberrydrivein.com
Where: 275 Starlite Drive (just off U.S. 11), Christiansburg
Information: 382-2202; www.starlitedrivein.info
Movies at the Tower
When: June 14, “Back to the Future”; July 12, “Escape from Planet Earth”; Aug. 9, “The Avengers”; Sept. 13, “Brave”
Where: Wells Fargo Plaza, Salem Avenue and Market Street, downtown Roanoke
Carmike Summer Kids Series
Carmike 10 at Tanglewood will show a kid-friendly movie at 10 a.m. on Thursdays for $4, which includes admission and a kids’ tray with popcorn, drink and snack. The first movie will be “Despicable Me” on June 13 and will continue through the week of Aug. 12.
Regal Summer Movie Express
Valley View Grande 16 is again hosting G- and PG-rated movies Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10 a.m. for just $1 a ticket.
The first movie on June 19 will be “The Three Stooges.”
The promotion will continue for nine weeks.
Info : Visit www.regmovies.com and search for Roanoke.
PASSPORTS TO PARKS
The Roanoke and New River valleys are blessed with numerous city, county and regional parks. A few years ago, my family made our own local parks scrapbook, which is a sort of photographic diary of our visits to Roanoke’s 60-plus parks (we haven’t hit them all, yet). We modeled our book after the popular National Park Service passport books, in which visitors collect cancellation stamps, complete with the parks’ names and dates of visits.
Local parks: During July, the parks and recreation department is giving away prizes in celebration of Park and Recreation Month . To enter, pick up a copy of the department’s Play Magazine and fill out the registration form about your favorite park. You also can register online at playroanoke.com/enter.
State parks: We made a similar passport book for Virginia State Parks, which are preferred destinations for my family. In fact, the state parks have become a perennial favorite in the Dadline summer guide. Lakes, beaches, trails, cabins, campsites and ranger-led programs are all within short drives of Roanoke and provide inexpensive vacation options.
Info: The fine website www.playroanoke.com features an interactive map of Roanoke’s parks, summer camps, recreation opportunities and lots of other great outdoorsy stuff.
PARKS AND ARTS
The Roanoke parks and rec department has launched a Parks and Arts program this summer that brings a variety of performing artists to neighborhood parks across the city on Saturdays this summer. Music, dancing and visual artists will be part of a program intended to strengthen neighborhoods, bring the arts to the public and raise awareness of the parks.
All shows 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For complete schedules, visit
June 8, Washington Park
Highlights: Roanoke Chamber Brass, Rob Smith, Moyer Brothers, Matt Ames
June 15, Jackson Park
Highlights: “Art is Happening” performances from Mill Mountain Theatre, Opera Roanoke, Southwest Virginia Ballet and the Taubman Museum of Art
June 29, Kennedy Park
Highlights: Electric Chameleon, Roanoke Children’s Theatre’s “Stuart Little,” Randolph Walker’s “Green Eggs and Ham” rap
July 13, Mill Mountain Park
Highlights: The Wright Kids, Rob Smith, Roanoke Chamber Brass
July 20, Eureka Park
Highlights : Performers from the Music Lab at Jefferson Center, Upscale Band and Show, balloon artist Darcy Meeker
Aug. 31, Highland Park
Highlights: YoYo Players, the Wright Kids, face painter Gwynn Hall
Sept. 15, Elmwood Park
Highlights: Roanoke Symphony Orchestra performing “Peter and the Wolf” with the Southwest Virginia Ballet, Larnell Starkey and the Spiritual Seven
Virginia State Parks
Thirty-five parks provide swimming, camping, hiking and a park-full of other ways to enjoy the outdoors.
Roanoke’s two municipal pools, Fallon Park and Washington Park, open for the season on Friday. Splash Valley at the Green Ridge Recreation Center opened for Memorial Day Weekend, but will be open seven days a week starting Wednesday.
Fallon Park Pool
Hours : noon to 7 p.m., Friday-Saturday; noon to 6 p.m., Sunday
Admission: $2-$3; free for 4 and under
Washington Park Pool
Hours: noon to 6 p.m., Monday-Tuesday, Thursday
Admission: $2-$3; free for 4 and under
Hours: noon to 6 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday; 6 to 8 p.m., Wednesday
Admission: $3-$4; free for 4 and under
Montgomery County Frog Pond
Hours: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Saturday; noon to 6 p.m. Sunday
Admission : $3-$5; free for 1 and under
Splash Valley at Green Ridge Recreation Center
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Admission: $5-$7, Roanoke County residents; $7-$9 non residents
Evelyn Alexander Water Park
at Randolph Park
Where: 5100 Alexander Road, Dublin (near Interstate 81 Exit 98)
Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday-Saturday; 12:30-6 p.m., Sunday
Admission: $2-$5; free for 1 and under
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