A surefire hit this summer will be the Downtown Providence Parks and Conservancy Programming (DPPC) in Kennedy Plaza. Kennedy Plaza is no longer the dreary location it was 10 years ago. With the new renovations it is not only beautiful, but thanks to Jennifer Smith, program manager for the DPPC, during the summer it is transformed into a cultural mecca full of entertaining summertime events. “We want to build community and provide access to fun, enriching events that are high quality and super fun at the same time,” Smith explains. The DPPC has worked tirelessly to transform this space, and the best part? These events are free!
The DPPC teamed up with Kidoinfo, the go-to hub for anything about kids in Rhode Island. Their partnership began in 2010 and has proven successful, bringing PVD a wide array of family programming.
The week begins on Tuesday with Farm Fresh RI Downtown Farmers Market. This dinnertime market is one-stop shopping. You can get your groceries, grab dinner from the array of tasty food trucks parked at the curb, and let the kids have some fun at Kidoinfo Play in the Park. This summer features Play Science, which brings fun interactive science and music to Burnside Park. The Farmers Market is open July – Oct.
Thursdays at Burnside Park have something for everyone! The day begins with Kidoinfo Storytime. From 10:30 – 11:30am, this all-ages event features illustrators, authors, musicians and storytellers who bring stories to life and connect children with books. This year’s line-up includes Len Cabral, Keith Munslow and Big Nazo Puppets for storytelling and a dance party!
Immediately following is Art in the Park from 11:30 – 12:30, which allows children to explore classic stories through art-making. A working artist will run a workshop based on an iconic children’s book. Each summer this series has a theme; past themes include Harold and the Purple Crayon and The Wild World of Maurice Sendak. This year children will discover The Great Green Room! The World of Margaret Wise Brown. These programs run from July 9 – Aug 20.
On Thursday evenings, the Burnside Park Music Series and Beer Garden takes over from 4:30 – 7:30pm. This series is in its 8th year and includes live music, food trucks and a beer garden, with season sponsor Trinity Brewhouse. The music festival begins on July 9 and will rock on until Sept 10.
Burnside Park will also be the location of the Imagination Center and Open Air Family Room. The Open Air Family Room features comfy beanbag chairs and a bookshelf where you can leave a book or take a book, once again turning Burnside Park into a place where children have access to reading. The Imagination Center is not open during Art in the Park.
The Imagination Playground, an award-winning mobile playground that provides a great spot for creative activity, will be out at all of these events. Often when you have children of mixed ages, the older child may enjoy the event and the younger may have ants in their pants. Luckily, the mobile playground is there to get those wiggles out, without the entire family having to pack up and leave. It is even out during the music series, and as any parent can tell you, there aren’t many family-friendly concerts out there.
One of the nicest things about this programming is what it produces. Smith’s favorite part of the series is “seeing adults forget that they’re adults and just play. It brings out a special joy — people from all walks of life sharing something very special.” It is not often that we get to see this occur with our busy schedules. This inspiring programming is something that all of Rhode Island should be proud of.
The DPCC’s website (www.kennedyplaza.org) will be re-launched on June 15; in the meantime their Facebook page (www.facebook.com/GreaterKennedyPlaza) will remain updated.