Opinion

Why Leave Home?

Good barbecues always get me thinking of summertime and I had plenty to think about during the hospital expansion's May 30 groundbreaking celebration. For the unfortunate few who missed it, the mini-festival was quite a first-class affair. While I gobbled up two of the best free hamburgers I've ever had (complete with a full condiment bar) my wife and I pondered various options for summertime entertainment. Gas prices, soaring expenses and a shrinking bank account wound up defeating every suggestion; by the time we finished our watermelon, it was decided that we weren't going anywhere.

You see, there really is no reason to leave Arlington in the summer, unless you need a reminder of just how good we have it here.

For me, the Show and Shine Car Show on Olympic is the official start of the season (this Saturday). If you like classic automobiles and enjoy talking to complete strangers about them, this event is for you. The cars' owners never seem to tire of relating the stories behind their wondrous, rolling works of art and there's always some cars for sale to tempt you.

Switch cars for planes, and you have the fabulous Arlington Fly-In. People come from all over the country for this and they sure like to talk about airplanes. This is a fairly unique air show, because there's something for everyone aviation and military buffs, aircraft owners, families just looking for something to do. It's big, but not too big; the Fly-In has a really positive, "community" vibe to it. The only minor drawback is the weather: on a really nice day, it can get blazin' hot on the tarmac (bring sunscreen) and a cloudy afternoon often brings with it poor visibility. On the latter days, there's plenty of attractions parked on the ground to look at.

We will be leaving town one Saturday this summer, for the much-anticipated opening of the Mountain Loop Highway on June 28. Like a teenager, I'll be raiding the sock drawer for gas money but it will be worth it to take my old Dart out for some clean mountain air. Darrington and Granite Falls will each have street festivals, barbecues and a long list of other events; Granite Falls will have fireworks at dusk. It's going to be a great, great day.

I have to confess that, for some reason or another, I've always missed the pancake breakfast that kicks off the best 4th of July celebration of any city around. I've vowed to start the day off right this year; however, the Pedal, Paddle and Puff triathlon is of course out of the question. With all of the day-long activities and great parade, you'd have to be nuts to want to get into the traffic and crowds elsewhere.

My favorite July 4th event is The Local Scoop's famous ice cream-eating contest. A table full of kids wolfing down ice cream pausing only for the occasional brain and/or lung freeze is a true Kodak moment and often makes for high-tension drama. I've always wanted to enter the "adults" event, confident of victory. However, after watching them have so much fun, the sight of an overweight 40-year-old inhaling chocolate is anticlimactic, if not disturbing.

Of all of this town's summertime entertainment opportunities, Terrace Park's "Outdoor Cinema" series has to be the quintessential Arlington experience. There is literally nothing like sitting on that terraced hillside, swatting mosquitoes and eating free popcorn. Last year's The Creature From The Black Lagoon in 3-D was certainly memorable, with the neighbor's Bumpus hounds' desperate howling accentuating all the scary parts.

While red-and-green glasses aren't necessary this summer, Parks and Recreation has to be commended for their choice of films. Grease and Ghostbusters are sure to attract big turnouts, and remember to bring a box of tissues for Where The Red Fern Grows.

Throw in two more car shows, The Festival of the River and other activities and there is enough free and cheap entertainment to be found locally to fill up almost every weekend 'til fall. Seafair weekend? Disneyland? Visiting relatives that I don't really want to see? You can bet I'm staying put right here at home and come September, my wallet will thank me for it.

If you don't have a Parks and Recreation Summer Activity Guide, City Hall has more copies.

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