School is out and as we gear up for summer, it’s time to relax with friends and family over the BBQ, play on the slip-and-slide or maybe head to the coast on the hotter days. We also have a lot of free options here at home, including playing in the parks, taking a morning walk along the Laguna, playing basketball at the Cator Field courts or tennis and pickleball at the recently refurbished Sunflower Park courts. You can also have a picnic in the shade at the Veronda-Falletti Ranch near city hall and say “Hi” to our resident sheep, goats and mini horses. All we ask is that you don’t feed them cake or ding-dongs; they may think they want to eat them, but like us, they will regret that choice later.
Over the next year, we are looking to develop hands-on farm-based programming at the Veronda-Falletti Ranch. If you are hoping to improve your backyard farming skills, home crafts, or understanding of farm animals, look for this in the next year. For example, what do you know about chickens? You may think it only applies to you if you’re raising them in your backyard, but there are numerous other ways that this knowledge could be important to you. For example, if you are waiting at the stop light by Peet’s Coffee and a chicken flies into your open window, what do you do? Do you: A) Pretend like nothing unusual just happened and drive on; B) Panic and flap your arms like the chicken that is flying around the interior of your car; or C) Calmly pull into the Peet’s parking lot, release the chicken and have a coffee. For you Cotatians, one of these is the obviously correct answer. We hope to have answers to this and much, much more in our farming classes.
If you are looking for events for the family, we have a lot going on in La Plaza Park this summer. You can come down to the Farmers Market every Thursday evening (beginning June 7) from 4-7 p.m. to listen to the live music and browse the selection of foods, crafts and produce. If movies are more your thing, we’d love to see you at our monthly Summer Movies in the Park, which begins the evening of June 22 with “Despicable Me 3,” plus the usual snacks and drinks for sale. On July 14, we’ll be honoring our Hometown Heroes at the 26th Annual Kids Day Parade and Festival, which starts with the annual carbo-loading (aka pancake breakfast) at the Church of the Oaks to get your energy up for the parade. Finish the day in La Plaza Park at the festival by jumping, singing, rock climbing, bouncing, kids’ crafts, grabbing a bite to eat and playing games with your family and neighbors.
Some other free community events coming up at La Plaza Park include the Cotati Music Festival June 16; National Night Out & Movie August 7, where you can meet your cops, have dinner and see a movie with the family; the annual Peace and Justice benefit concert September 8; and Oliver’s 30th Birthday Celebration Event September 15. We also have the world famous 28th annual Cotati Accordion Festival taking place August 18 and 19, which does charge for admission.
If you’re busy working during the week and are looking for more structured activities this summer for your children, we also have numerous camp options, including filmmaking camps, science camps, comic camps, theatre camps, sports camps, Lego camps and traditional summer camps. There will be games, activities, crafts and experiments to keep even the most inquisitive or active child engaged.
Lastly, I wanted to pass along a short story to illustrate the importance of eating a healthy lunch each day. A certain unnamed farmer was recently overheard saying that the parents of the mini horses at Veronda-Falletti Ranch were famous Clydesdale horses that had appeared in some beer commercials, including some that you may have seen. However, in their quest for fame, they spent most of their time on the road, often traveling from county fair to county fair. This is where their foals developed a taste for a steady diet of churros, deep fried alfalfa (a lesser known fair food that horses have a particular weakness for) and Mountain Dew. While this diet apparently gave the foals a beautiful sheen, it had the unfortunate side effect of stunting their growth.
While we recently learned that this story may not be entirely factual, the moral is don’t be like the junk food eating mini horses. Whenever possible, eat balanced meals and it’s important that our kids establish good eating habits when they are young. During the summer, the school lunch programs are not available and parents have busy work schedules. To help out, the city has again partnered with the Redwood Empire Food Bank this summer to offer free nutritious lunches in La Plaza Park. The free lunches are available to anyone who is 18-years-old or younger, regardless of income, including children enrolled in our summer camps. Our kids are growing quickly, so they need a healthy full lunch each day – particularly when they don’t have access to the school lunch programs during the summer months.
If you come to one of our summer events in La Plaza Park, I encourage you to stop by and visit with Ashley, our Recreation Coordinator, to learn more about all of these programs, or visit our city webpage at www.cotaticity.org. No matter what you do, have fun, stay safe and we hope to see you this summer!