Before meeting my husband, if you would have asked me the difference between DC and Marvel or who voiced Bumblebee in Transformers: The Movie, you would have been met with a blank stare and a snarky comment. Being married to a nerd (sorry, hon!) and being a boy mom has taught me a few things. I have actually built a Millennium Falcon and made an Optimus Prime costume out of cardboard boxes in my garage with my bare hands! Now I know all kinds of crazy pop culture trivia and obscure references that I never would have imagined.
There are some wonderful local events where love to go and get our nerd on. Here are just a few of the events and places around town I have found, and our family looks forward to them each time they come around or we get to visit.
Downtown Events on the Square:
There are several downtown square events including Celina, TX and Carrollton, TX that we’ve attended. The cities have family friendly events that are free and come around as often as monthly. There are also some annual events like Star Wars on the Square or Superhero Night on the Square. I find it best to follow these downtown areas on social media for the most current upcoming event information.
Superhero Night on the Square-Celina
Recently, we went to Superhero Night on the Square in Celina. This free event is a dress up event where there are hero themed activities and bounce houses for a few hours, and then at sundown they showed an Avengers movie. This year a local grocery store donated hot dogs and water for visitors and we got to hang out and play games with the local police and fire department, the “real” heroes. Older kids were out tossing a football and younger kids were playing tug of war with the local police and fire departments.
Star Wars on the Square-Celina
Star Wars on the Square is something we have been to twice. There are costume contests, light saber building activities, and tons of fun costumes from the Star Wars universe. At sundown, there is an outdoor movie on the lawn. I need a moment to brag on my mad nerd skills and say my boys are two time contest winners in both the costume and homemade ship building categories.
The city of Celina has future events on their website here: http://www.celina-tx.gov/index.aspx?nid=987
I find it best to follow them on Facebook too, because there are always fun events being planned or posted and it’s a good source for planning ahead and getting real time event information like inclement weather re-scheduling. Their FB page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/CelinaMainStreetSquare/
Historic downtown Carrollton events:
Downtown Carrollton often has movies on the square and local shop owners and vendors come out to make it extra fun. The events here are similar to the ones offered in Celina with costumes, light saber making, fun photos with fans and bounce houses. One thing I like to do at all these events is pack a picnic with snacks and drinks and bring lots of blankets to cuddle while we watch the movie at sunset.
The city of Carrollton also has a site where you can see future events here: http://historicdowntowncarrollton.com/downtown-events
July 8, 2017 is a Guardians of the Galaxy night and there is sure to be some fun festivities that are out of this world. If you aren’t into geeking out as much as us, there is a Moana and a Beauty and the Beast night coming up as well.
Free Lego Builds and More!
Did you know you can get free Legos from Toys R Us? Events are usually once a month and are often centered around licensed movies like Star Wars or Disney movies. The events are held on a Saturday from 12 pm – 2 pm and are on a first come, first served basis. Most recently, we got to build free Princess Leia figures and later this month there are birthday party events for Geoffrey the Giraffe.
If you sign up with Toys R Us online, you’ll get emails of all upcoming store events about two weeks prior to the event. Current events can also be found here: http://www.toysrus.com/shop/?categoryId=4311963
There are several local, vintage arcades like Free Play in Richardson or Cidercade in Dallas. While each place may vary slightly, usually there is a cover charge of about $10 per person for unlimited video game access for the day. The games are vintage style games, so the parents can have a lot of fun too. There is a curfew where it is adult play only at about 8-9 PM each day. I like to arrive close to opening so that there is little or no line for any games, and my kids are done playing sometime in the afternoon when it is busier. Food and drinks can also be purchased, and I highly recommend the pizza at Free Play.
Breakfast with Superheros:
We love it when Amazing Jake’s in Plano has some fun character breakfasts. I find the actual breakfast to be our secondary reason for going, it is always fun to meet Captain America or Spider-man. These guys are so much fun and the characters are Marvel Comics sponsored so they are super legit and behave in character. If heroes aren’t your thing, there are princess and Paw Patrol type breakfasts that your kids are sure to love. Amazing Jake’s posts event information here: http://www.amazingjakesplano.com/home/
Visiting Area Stores:
Collectors Saga, formerly Order 66, is in downtown McKinney and a Star Wars lovers dream. There are tons of affordable and hard to find toys that my kids love to put on their wish list. The store has had celebrity visitors signing autographs and taking photos. On weekends, it is not uncommon to have a friendly light saber fight with Kylo Ren.
Madness Games and Comics in Plano is another fun place to stop in. Again, there are often weekend events where they bring in celebrity guests from our favorite movies. My boys have met Ray Park who played Darth Maul (and is the nicest Star Wars actor we have ever met), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and Jake Lloyd (a young Anakin Skywalker). While most celebrities can charge for their autograph, often we get to talk to them either way. There are also nationwide Free Comic Book Days, which are often big events where people dress up and like to take photos with other fans. Stores often have special discounts around this time too, so we pick up those toys by kids (okay, my husband) can’t live without.
First Thursday Late Nights at the Perot Museum
With programs like building R2-D2 with Trent White and out of this world E.T.-The Extra Terrestrial showings, the Perot Museum has wonderful Science Fiction options that help bridge imagination and science. With hands on learning and great guests, my kids have had fun learning various S.T.E.M subjects at the museum. Late nights means that our dad can join us when he gets off work, so it makes for a fun family event. Upcoming summer topics include physics, biology and chemistry nights. Future events at the Perot Museum can be found here: http://www.perotmuseum.org/events-and-programs/adult-programs/the-lab/index.html
Attending Local Comic Conventions and Fan Days:
One thing we have built up to is taking our kids to local comic conventions like Fan Days Dallas or Cyber City Con. While I would not recommend you start with this as your family’s first activity due the crowds, time spent waiting in lines and the overall cost, I can say that these events have become something my family looks forward to each year. It is a fun way to bond with your kids over a love of movies and pop culture. My kids enjoy making costumes to cos play at conventions, and it becomes a family design event to get them ready before a convention. I hope that as my boys get older, it’ll still be cool to go nerd out with their mom and dad.
While moms of boys may think they have plenty of hero activities to do, I hope parents of young girls also introduce their kids to some of the comic book lore. There are tons of fun, girl power stories and heroes like Wonder Woman and Bat Girl to look up to. Toys and dress up clothes are being more readily marketed to young girls right next to the princess gear and they are fun stories of empowerment, overcoming obstacles and strength that is good for all kids. My personal observation is that these events seem to be frequented equally by both boys and girls and is super fun for the parents as well.