As we venture forth from our sweatered nests, it’s that time of year to catch up with the playground buzz. There’s a lot being talked about around the swings, but since this is a family newspaper, I’ll stick to a family topic. (Although, there’s some smoking gossip out there that screams “Mom’s Night Out!”)
Okay, back to my column. We all know that it’s really expensive to entertain kids; never more so than in today’s economy. Even a movie has become a major event now that most studios are releasing every kid-friendly flick in 3-D. Taking the family to a movie can cost close to $100, especially if you include snacks. However, here’s my biggest beef: 3-D admission includes a free pair of “Roy Orbinson glasses,” but then they have the nerve to ask theatergoers to “recycle” them into the big blue bucket upon exiting the theater so they can repackage them in time for the next showing. “Yeah, for ten bucks I’ll give them back!” (The 3-D’s to a 3-D movie are: debt, debt, debt!)
Many people I know actually have a “family entertainment budget.” Thinking back to my childhood, my family’s entertainment budget was: “zero.” Our weekend entertainment consisted of the following choices: either help my father scrape the old paint off the house on Saturday and help him re-shingle the roof on Sunday; or, weed and rake the yard. Occasionally, my old man would throw in an oil change, or a “let’s take the motor apart to see why the ‘check engine light’ is on,” but the general theme of our family entertainment was “maintenance.” A real rare thrill was when we were thrown into the trunk of the Falcon station wagon to take a road trip to Aunt Peggy’s in Pearl River, New York. My brother and I had a ball bouncing around the trunk like a couple of spastic bobbleheads up Kinderkermack Road making faces at the bus drivers who had the misfortune of driving behind our car all the way to the New York State Line.
But I digress. I’m sure you also have fond memories of family outings that cost nothing, or close to it. Here are some ideas for a spring and summer of outings that won’t break the bank and will make for some great memories.
Minor League Baseball: We are so fortunate to be surrounded by some of the best minor league teams, so why not take advantage of it?
Staten Island Yankees: $16/ home plate; $14/reserve seats. Great all-inclusive packages available. SIY is a farm team of the NY Yankees. Stadium right near the Staten Island Ferry with a great view of Statue of Liberty. http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/index.jsp?sid=t586
Jersey Jackals: NJ Jackals had 19 players sign with Major League organizations since 2006 season. $11/box; $9 reserved. http://www.jackals.com/home.asp
Newark Bears: The Newark Bears rank 3rd on Minor League Baseball’s top 100 Minor League Teams in history. $10/ticket; $1 discount for all military and first responders. http://www.newarkbears.com/
Brooklyn Cyclones: Farm team of the NY Mets; the stadium is right next to Coney Island Beach. Games frequently have fireworks displays. Tickets range from $8 to $16. http://brooklyncyclones.com/home/
Long Island Ducks: Part of the Atlantic League, they play in the Citibank Stadium in Central Islip. Tickets average $12. http://www.liducks.com/
Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees: This Yankees minor team is AAA, (the highest level of the minors) and a great place to see future Yankees players. It’s worth the 2 hour drive to Pennsylvania. Tickets are $10 to $14. http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/index.jsp?sid=t531
Membership to New York’s Wildlife Conservation Society: a $124 membership fee ($78 tax deductible) for a family of four includes a year of free admission to these five attractions: Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park, Prospect Park, and Queens Zoos. It also includes four free parking passes, discount cards for gift shops and restaurants, and more. http://www.bronxzoo.org/become-a-member/family.aspx
To find more affordable fun, and have access to the “Mom to Mom Calendar of Events” that lists just about every event going on in and around Bergen County (Street Fairs, Farmers’ Markets, Craft Fairs, Flea Markets, Outdoor Summer Movies and Concerts, Carnivals, and more!) become a fan of “BERGEN COUNTY MOM TO MOM” on FACEBOOK. It’s a page I created to connect you with everything that’s going on—for free! Check it out.