‘Encanto,’ ‘Cruella’ and different methods Houston parks are getting children open air

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In recognition of the nation’s annual Parks and Recreation Month, upcoming local events will connect children to the great outdoors.

Families meet a walking wizard and a butterfly on stilts on a magical Tale Trail at the Oyster Creek Park Movie Celebration hosted by City of Sugar Land Parks & Recreation.

The fantastical creatures available for photo ops are inspired by the event’s Encanto film screening.

Before the show, families can head out to read page by page of Danica McKellar’s book, Ten Magical Butterflies, thanks to wooden plaques along the way.

The interactive, reading-inspired walk was a hit at last summer’s outdoor movie night, says Tricia Yurcak of the City of Sugar Land.

“I think it’s interesting for parents and kids to have another opportunity (to read together),” she says of the story, which is inspired by the type of nature that’s present in both Oyster Park and the animated film about the The Madrigal family can be seen.

The route along the 111-acre park’s 111-acre loop trail was designed for families to “exercise, get active and be in nature,” says Yurcak, who adds that park maps will be available for those who want to explore other paths.

What: ‘Charm”‘

When: 6 p.m. July 22; The film starts at 6:45 p.m

Where: Oyster Creek Park, 4033 Highway 6, Sugar Land.

details: Free; sugarlandtx.gov

What: family activity

When: 9.00-11.00 July 23

Where: Memorial Park Conservancy, North Lakeside Pavilion, 7575 North Picnic Ln.

details: Free; memorialparkconservancy.org.

What: ‘Cruella’

When: 8:30 p.m. July 29

Where: Levy Park, 3801 Eastside

details: Free; levyparkhouston.org.

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Kids who take a selfie before the last page enter a park-inspired prize package.

To encourage future park visits, she says, the trail connects families with public art, such as a sculpture of a child skateboarding and a grandmother reading to a child.

Spotting the stilt-walking butterfly adds even more anticipation to the film screening.

“She’s a big hit, she’s very inviting… and the little kids are just amazed at how big she is, she’s so majestic and graceful,” says Yurcak.

The event features food trucks and giant lawn games, an “all-encompassing, immersive” experience in one of Sugar Land’s most popular parks, she says, with elements that “merge the magic of the movie and the magic of the park.”

The staff chose Encanto this year because it shows a family learning “how their unique gifts can contribute to their community,” she says.

“That’s what Park and Recreation Month is all about, fostering that sense of community.”

In conjunction with the national celebration of parks, Memorial Park participates in Plastic Free July.

On July 23, families are invited to volunteer at a community sorting and recycling event.

Guests can bring a blanket to hear from local storyteller Leona Hoegsberg, who engages children with lessons on protecting their environment.

Kids learn what they can do about plastic waste with a waste timeline that shows how long it takes for different types of materials to break down.

And at this month’s Levy Parks screening of Cruella, families can take advantage of the park’s reading carts, craft carts, play carts and board games before the film begins at 8:30 p.m

“Coming to Levy Park at night is a completely different experience than during the day,” says park director Stephanie Kiouses. “The lighting and surroundings are so peaceful.”

The screen is located next to the entrance to the children’s park, which stays open late during movie nights, allowing parents to keep an eye on their children while they watch the movie.

Families can bring a picnic and blanket, or visit the park’s restaurants for a take-out dinner, along with beer and wine.

Held 10 times a year, the outdoor cinemas are frequented by families, who often bring games, coloring books and Lego for kids to play with in front of the big screen, Kiouses says.

“It’s just a super easy way to get out there and shake up your summer routine,” she says.

Even with record-breaking temperatures, the green space gets a nice evening breeze, which adds to the uniqueness of the large community gathering, she says.

“It’s great to be out and about with all your neighbors”

Allison Bagley is a Houston-based author.