Sound Off: Summer fun with family

In the past few weeks I have been watching families leave the library with stacks of books, DVDs and other library materials, and it has reminded me of the summer that I was 10 and, for the first time, had permission to travel by two buses to the library in a neighboring city. I would bring my stack of books on to the bus for the return ride home, usually starting the first book on the trip. The books and the freedom of going somewhere on my own has kept that summer memory coming back to me.

All families are invited to visit libraries on Whidbey Island this summer. Sno-Isle Libraries have branches in Clinton, Langley, Freeland, Coupeville and Oak Harbor. Super sleuths and daring detectives are invited to join “Get a Clue at Your Library.” The Summer Reading Programs in each of the libraries are open to children and teens with programs, story-hours, prize drawings and more. Contact any of the libraries for a full calendar of programs, lists of open hours and other services and visit www.sno-isle.org.

Catch a bus! Bus riding is easier on Whidbey Island than it was in New Jersey. Island Transit provides free bus service north and south on the island. There are several routes that provide service to Langley, Coupeville and Oak Harbor as well. You can even hop aboard and bring your bicycle with you (attached to a rack on the front of the bus). Island Transit connects to Skagit on the north end, providing access to Skagit County (www.islandtransit.org).

Whidbey Island is graced with wonderful family-friendly parks, large and small. South Whidbey State Park, Fort Ebey, Fort Casey and Deception Pass Park provide camping, and many other small parks are easy to get to for an afternoon outing. Fly a kite and see the lighthouse at Fort Casey, walk the beach at Double Bluff, have a picnic at Joseph Whidbey State Park, watch the boats going in and out of the marina at Windjammer Park, or grab a fishing pole and sit at the end of the wharf in Coupeville. Large playgrounds can be found at Windjammer Park in Oak Harbor and at the Castle Park in Langley (www.parks.wa.gov/parks/regislands.asp).

There was parade watching for the Fourth of July at Maxwelton and Oak Harbor. If you are a parade enthusiast there will still be an opportunity to attend a parade during the days of the Island County Fair. The parade will travel from downtown Langley to the fairgrounds on Saturday, Aug. 18 beginning at 10 a.m.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can make the trip north to the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Mount Vernon. There are trails to hike, birds to watch, and in the summer months they have beach activities for children (www.padillabay.gov).

Families can attend the National Night Out event in Oak Harbor on Aug. 7, from 3 to 8 p.m. It is a nationwide program to get neighbors to know one another to reduce the crime in the neighborhood. Many family activities will be available.

Whidbey Island hosts two Arts and Crafts Festivals in the summer months. The next is the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival held on Aug. 11 and 12. There will be plenty of entertainment, and hands on activities for children, as well as demonstrations by artists.

You can take the family out for an “evening with the stars.” Island County Astrological Society is a group of amateur astronomers living on Whidbey, Camano and Fidalgo Islands. They hold monthly astronomy parties. A Lunar Eclipse Party will be held at Fort Nugent Park on Aug. 28.

Summer freedom and fun is waiting for you and your family. Enjoy the outdoors, and some activities close to home. Get to know your community, and enjoy the wonderful place that we live.

Carol Rice is Children’s Librarian at the Oak Harbor Library and a member of the Family Support Alliance.

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