Park Place: Kids' Stuff

The park and the village of Peninsula have lots of fun for the little ones planned this summer. Here are four of our favorites. 

Peninsula Python Day: July 20
» A circus train derailed in Peninsula 71 years ago, letting a python loose. Missing chickens left the villagers in fear at the time, but now the legendary tale is the focal point for a quirky sense of community. This sixth annual snake-themed celebration will include a 100-foot-python parade, actual pythons to pet, kids activities and stories about the 1942 incident that inspired the event. Businesses offer python-themed specials, and homeowners get in on the action as well, dressing up their lawns with python-inspired decorations. "One woman up the street took a big log that sort of looked like a python and painted a face on it," says Steve Bures, secretary of the Peninsula Area Chamber of Commerce. "It's just a local, fun thing we do." Peninsula Library and Boston Township Hall (visit website for addresses and more information),

Sunday Fun Days: July 21 & Aug. 25
» If your kids are bouncing off the walls, it may be time to pack a lunch, make a trip to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park's Octagon Shelter, and let them run loose. "It's nice to just take a break from the city, and too often kids don't get to just be kids," says park ranger Pam Machuga. "Sometimes they need to just run around a field." This is the place to do it too, with activities ranging from Frisbee to beach volleyball to graces, a game played by passing a hoop back and forth with two sticks. Families can also take a historic Underground Railroad hike, where they'll get secret code words and learn by interacting with characters along the way. 1-4 p.m. Octagon Shelter, Kendall Park Road, 1.5 miles west of Akron Cleveland Road, Peninsula

Rambling Along the River: July 21 & Aug. 5
» The park lets its Junior Rangers put on goggles and gloves, break out the aquatic nets and get up close and personal with the Cuyahoga River. They'll hunt for species and learn about water quality by performing scientific tests. "We're mostly looking for macroinvertebrates, so they're going to find everything from dragonflies to damselfly nymphs and, if we're lucky, water striders," says interpretive park ranger Mike Kosmos. "It's really a fun, hands-on experience where they get to look for bugs and creepy-crawlies, but also learn why it's important to find a variety of organisms in the river and what that means." $8, register in advance. 9:30-11:30 a.m. Lock 29, 1648 Mill St., Peninsula,

Boomerang Extravaganza: Aug. 18
What started as an experiment years ago has become the national park's longest-running event — mainly because people have a strange fascination with boomerangs. Dave Boehm, who runs the Boomerang Extravaganza, went to Australia for two years to learn the history and art of boomerang throwing from the Aborigines before returning home to found the Cleveland Boomerang School. "His experience is just fabulous," says park ranger Margaret Adams. "You can see the excitement he has for it." Learn his techniques and compete in front of a panel that judges your throw, accuracy, direction and distance. $3. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Howe Meadow, 4040 Riverview Road, Peninsula

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