Parents Night Out sponsored by area parks

Posted: February 12, 2013

The Winchester Star

Winchester — Parents love their children, but they still need occasional breaks to spend time together or simply have a few hours on their own.

They will have their chance Friday when the Winchester Parks and Recreation Department offers its bi-annual Parents Night Out from 6 to 10 p.m. at the recreation center in Jim Barnett Park, said Stephanie Frazier, youth and special populations coordinator.

“It gives parents a place where they can drop their kids off that they don’t have to worry about,” she said. “They can have a little bit of time off where they don’t have to worry about anything but having fun.”

That includes not worrying about a huge bill at the end of the night, she said. The cost of the program — for children 4 to 12 — is $15 for one child and $10 for each additional child.

The price includes a dinner of pizza, chips and a drink and activities for the duration of the program.

Depending on the ages and interests of the children, they might participate in activities in the gym, watch a movie, play board games, work on arts and crafts, or have free play with toys such as cars and dollhouses, Frazier said. The staff waits to see which children enroll and then determines their interests.

“The kids like it. They are normally wiped out after their parents come pick them up,” she said.

The staff which runs the program is also responsible for the department’s after-school and summer programs, so parents can know they are leaving their children with experienced caregivers, she said.

With that worry off their shoulders, sometimes the hardest part of the night for parents is figuring out what to do with so much free time, said Tracey Pitcock, recreation programs coordinator for the Clarke County Parks and Recreation Department.

The Clarke agency has been offering several Parents Night Out programs year-round for two years, she said. Upcoming events are set for 5-9 p.m. March 9 and April 13 at the recreation building in Chet Hobert Park.

The price is $15 for one child or $10 each for two or more children from the same family, she said. The program is open for children 3 to 12 as long as they are potty- trained.

The programs for the evenings change depending on the season, often having a theme to tie the night together, Pitcock said. Activities could include playing with toys or video games, obstacle courses, arts and crafts, coloring or a movie.

“We always plan for more activities in case an activity gets done quickly or is not as popular,” she said.

A snack is provided, but children should have dinner before they come.

The program’s April 5 and 26 dates will be held at Full Moon Ranch in Clarke County, home of the Pony To Go business. There, children will get a feel for farm life, take a pony ride, and end the evening with storytelling around a bonfire, Pitcock said.

The cost for those events, held from 6:30 p.m. to about 8:45 p.m., is $20 per family.

The Frederick County Parks and Recreation Department does not have a Parents Night Out Program.

Information

For more information about Winchester’s program, call 540-662-4946. To learn more about Clarke’s, call 540-955-5140.

winchesterva.gov/parks  clarkecounty.gov

— Contact Laura McFarland at lmcfarland@winchesterstar.com