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Best of the City 2012
The Chimp Tent
In 2008, Gene Sorkin founded a local chapter (or “tent”) of The Sons of the Desert, a.k.a. The Laurel and Hardy Appreciation Society. Sorkin wraps up the 2012 season on Saturday, December 15, at the E.T. Carson Masonic Lodge in Clifton with a screening that includes Laurel and Hardy’s Another Fine Mess.
Sandi “Stoney” Stonebraker has packed Stoney’s Gifts, her tiny purple shop in Covington, with a thoughtful selection of fairy and princess goodies. There are plenty of silk slippers, tiaras, tutus, and tea sets, but she makes sure she stocks lots of other toys to spark a kid’s imagination. We like the Rapunzel wooden story boxes by Steve Light, Pumpkin Theatre by Le Toy Van, fairy light kits, and terrific Hero Capes for girls and boys. Stoney’s garden is available for birthday, tea, or dress-up parties. “I like to carry toys that are creative, educational, enhance self-esteem, and preserve the innocence of childhood,” says Stonebraker.
323 W. Sixth St., Covington, (859) 655-9571, stoneysgifts.com
Ballet Theatre Midwest
The boys’ March, Leap, and Lunge class from Ballet Theatre Midwest is a perfect intro to movement for the traditionally less-than-graceful gender. The Children’s Dance, Music and Art workshops, held during the summer, combine live music, fun costumes, and creative handmade sets with Friday performances. Applause!
Spencer Township Hall, 3833 Eastern Ave., Columbia-Tusculum, (513) 520-2334, ballettheatremidwest.com
Car Trip Toys
Ted’s Toy Store
Plan a pit stop at Ted’s Toy Store in Madeira and you may never hear the words _Are we there yet? again. We found countless card and dice games old and new (including LCR and Bananagrams), intriguing handheld puzzles, ultra-modern moldable PlayFoam (think Play-Doh on steroids), and Baseball Guys action figures—just what your little Reds fan needs. You won’t hear a peep until Cleveland.
6934 Miami Ave., Madeira, (513) 271-8697, tedstoystore.com
Teen Book Selection
The Blue Marble Children’s Bookstore
Middle-grade and YA book fiends starving for new reads should make a beeline to Ft. Thomas and the quaint Blue Marble Children’s Bookstore. Easily a third of the store’s 20,000 volumes are dedicated to teen and pre-teen lit, plus owners Tina and Peter Moore make a concerted effort to showcase works by local YA authors, including Emma Carlson Berne, whose next thriller, _Never Let You Go, comes out this month, and Jeff Stone, author of the Five Ancestors series. Their books appear right alongside teen-lit icons Rick Riordan (_Percy Jackson and the Olympians) and Suzanne Collins (_The Hunger Games trilogy).
1356 S. Ft. Thomas Ave., Ft. Thomas, (859) 781-0602, bluemarblebooks.com
Pump It Up
Junior jumpers in the know call West Chester’s Pump It Up—one of Cincinnati’s original indoor bounce arenas—their favorite place to let loose. On foul weather days, there’s no better place to let off steam.
7724 Service Center Dr., West Chester, (513) 829-7867, pumpitupparty.com/oh/west-chester/home-p1q110.htm
Is there a schoolchild within 100 miles who hasn’t giggled with glee over the gigantic antics of Madcap Puppets? Now the epic troupe (catch them this month performing Amahl and the Night Visitors with Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra) has a new home. The ornate 1920s Bell Telephone switching station at the corner of Harrison and Epworth in Westwood—a gift from the Westwood Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation—will now be home to workshops, a theater, and space for Madcap’s summer puppetry camp. Paws in the air, little monsters!
3054 Harrison Ave., Westwood, (513) 921-5965, madcappuppets.com
John R. Green Store
Parents, meet John R. Green. Many of the supplies this Covington educational superstore are of the classroom-equipping variety, but there’s no reason you can’t stock up on math flash cards from Trend Enterprises, science workbooks from Classroom Complete Press, or wall maps from House of Doolittle. You’ll also find binders, pencils, stickers, toys, games, and activity kits from the likes of Crayola and Scholastic. Who needs recess?
411 W. Sixth St., Covington, (800) 354-9737, johnrgreenco.com
Hidden Gem for Kids
Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati
Tucked into a former Cincinnati firehouse built in 1906, the Fire Museum of Greater Cincinnati is packed with cool, hands-on firefighting equipment and exhibits that illustrate the evolution of modern firefighting. (Did you know that Cincinnati boasts the nation’s first all-professional fire department? It’s true!) Climb in the cab of a real fire truck and turn on its lights and sirens, slide down a fire pole, and learn about fire safety along the way.
315 W. Court St., downtown, (513) 621-5553, cincyfiremuseum.com
Best Kids’ Camps
Sleepover: YMCA’s Camp Ernst
If you think your 6- to 15-year-old _might like a sleep-away camp, the YMCA’s Camp Ernst gives you a couple of low-risk ways to test the waters. Their Weekend Camps pack a full week of activities into select weekends through the fall, winter, and spring. Intro to Camp Ernst Overnights are designed for 5- to 9-year-olds and give novice campers a 24 hour taste of activities, campfires, and sleeping in a cabin for just one night.
7615 Camp Ernst Rd., Burlington, (859) 586-6181, mycamp.org
Skyhawks offers a mix of traditional and nontraditional week-long sports camps throughout the area. Baseball, basketball, soccer, and lacrosse are represented, but so are T-ball, flag football, cheerleading, golf, and skateboarding. Check skyhawks.com for dates and locations.
Kirk Hohenberger, (740) 504-0128, email@example.com
Circus: My Nose Turns Red
Looking for a camp that lets active kids flex their muscles and creativity? My Nose Turns Red circus camp helps kids use their physicality and develop performance skills. Activities include unicycling, rolling globes, wire walking, juggling, and yes, spinning plates. One- or two- week camps are offered throughout the summer and all end with a performance.
(859) 581-7100, mynoseturnsred.org
Dance: MamLuft&Co. and Contemporary Dance Theater
Maybe your tiny dancer isn’t into traditional ballet, or maybe your ballerina wants to spread her wings. The MamLuft&Co. and Contemporary Dance Theater summer camp provides dancers aged 5–10 (both girls and boys) with a week of modern dance technique, yoga, crafts, tumbling, outside play, and snacks in an all-day camp. P.S. They offer before- and after-camp care, and already have dates set: August 5–9, 2013. (Most announce dates in late winter.)
Jeanne Mam-Luft, (513) 494-6526, mamluftcodance.org
Outdoor: Cincinnati Parks Nature Camp
Truly the gold standard of Cincinnati day camps, the Cincinnati Parks Nature Camps are affordable fun for kids ages 3 to 12, be it hiking Ault Park, hunting fossils in California Woods, or learning about the solar system at the Trailside Nature Center. Have your kids aged out? Fear not! Kids 13 and older can volunteer to be Counselors in Training.
(513) 321-6208, ext. 11, cincinnatiparks.com
Art: Camp Art Academy
Think a 5-year-old is too young to understand perspective? Guess again. More than cutting, pasting, and coloring, Camp Art Academy offers young artistes hands-on use of materials like watercolors and acrylics and professional instruction by artists or art educators. Kids from 5 to 12 are grouped by age into classes of 15 with one instructor and one assistant per group and weekly topics (like design principles or cartooning) are made age appropriate per class by the teachers. Before- and after-care available for an additional fee.
1212 Jackson St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 562-6262, artacademy.edu
Science: Drake Planetarium and Science Center
Summer programs at the Drake Planetarium and Science Center look to the future (battle bots, rockets) and the past (catapults, siege machines) to build fun while teaching the underlying principals of engineering. Medieval World Camp participants learn how to make armor and their own trebuchet. Space Campers take and process images from NASA telescopes all over the world. New for 2013: an all-girls STEM careers camp for third through sixth graders, where girls learn from female professionals in archaeology, paleontology, physics, astronomy, and more. “We want to create inventors,” says executive planetarium director Pamela Bowers.
2020 Sherman Ave., Norwood, (513) 396-5578, drakeplanetarium.org
High/Low: Baby Gifts
High: Instant Heirloom
Kathy Kallmeyer’s ambrosial christening gowns are crafted from vintage fabrics, making them immediate keepsakes. Find the one-of-a kind treasures at Little Lords & Ladies Children’s Boutique in Montgomery or contact “Granny K” directly.
Little Lords & Ladies Children’s Boutique in Montgomery, 7816 Cooper Rd., Montgomery, (513) 891-1569, etsy.com/shop/grannyKcollection
Low: Cute and Practical
Flannel-lined, with whimsical prints on the outside and a bit of elastic to keep them in place, Burkeheart Baby slippers are just the thing for This Little Piggy aficionados. Pick ’em up at Park Vine or through Gillian Krygowski’s Etsy shop.
Park Vine, 1202 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 721-7275, parkandvine.com, etsy.com/shop/starlightsound
Please note that the information listed in this section was accurate at the time the issue went to print in 2012 and that addresses, menu items, company status, etc., may have changed. Please contact the companies to confirm details.