The Best Things in Life Are FREE

Free Hugs
Chances are, you’ve probably heard the old line, “the best things in life are free”, and you may have even heard it in one of the many different versions of the song with the same name. In fact, there are at least ten different versions of the song that was originally written by Lew Brown, Buddy DeSylva, and Ray Henderson for the musical Good News in 1927. Some of the well-known artists to cover the song with or without drastically altered lyrics include the Ink Spots, Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Jo Stafford, Hank Mobley, Sam Cooke, Lou Donaldson, and Janet Jackson. As a result, there certainly hasn’t been a shortage of artists trying to convey the importance of the free things in life, but finding things that are free to enjoy can be a lot more challenging than it should be. It is, therefore, fortunate that there are a number of free activities in the Boston area this weekend that are sure to put a smile on your face without forcing you to touch your hard-earned cash.

First, if you are a Shakespeare fan, you may want to head over to the Fairbanks House in Dedham, MA this weekend. This is because the Fairbanks House is hosting the Dragonfly Theater’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at 5:00 P.M. tonight and tomorrow (June 26th and 27th, 2015) and at 2:00 P.M. on Sunday (June 28, 2015.) This production will allow you to see Shakespeare’s classic comedy about a group of ancient Greeks caught up in fairy mischief from the comfort of this historic house’s lawn. For more information on the Dragonfly Theater’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which is completely free and open to the public, please visit the Dragonfly Theater’s website.

Secondly, if you’re not really a Shakespeare fan or you would prefer wandering around an air-conditioned building to sitting on a lawn, there are a number of museums and historic locations offering free admission today. In fact, the MIT Museum in Cambridge, MA; the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA; Tanglewood and the Mount in Lenox, MA; the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester; and the Peabody Essex Museum and the House of the Seven Gables in Salem, MA are all offering free admission today as part of the Highland Street Foundation’s Free Fun Fridays. For more information on these locations and other locations that are offering free admission to everyone as part of the Highland Street Foundation’s Free Fun Fridays, please visit the Highland Street Foundation website.

Finally, if you’re looking for some free information on Norman Rockwell or any of the other artists that created the magnificent works of art that you may encounter at the museums above, you should definitely check out In fact, Artsy will not only give you the opportunity to read biographies and articles on over 50,000 artists but will also give you the opportunity to see some of the amazing works of art that these artists have created.

Photo credit: Street matt / Foter / CC BY

Things to Do on Father’s Day Weekend

What If Dark Vader Was A Good Father
This Sunday, June 21st, is not only the summer solstice but also Father’s Day. As a result, if you were focusing on the fact that the summer was officially about to begin and your vacation, whether it be from school or work, was rapidly approaching, you may have forgotten about at least one of these occasions (and, let’ face it, it probably wasn’t the summer one.) Fortunately, if you totally forgot about the fact that you’re supposed to celebrate your dad this weekend, there are a number of events in the Boston area that will help you show him how much you care.

First, if your father has always enjoyed seeing big animals or you just think he is an animal at heart, you may want to head over to the Franklin Park Zoo or the Stone Zoo this Sunday. This is because the Franklin Park Zoo and the Stone Zoo are offering free admission for all fathers in honor of Father’s Day, which means that you may have to pay for yourself but your dad can get in without taking out his wallet. For more information on Father’s Day at the Franklin Park Zoo, please visit the Zoo New England website.

Secondly, if your father is more into eating tasty, tasty animals than visiting them, you may want to check out the Pantry at The VERVE Crowne Plaza in Natick. The Pantry is offering a free 10 oz. Strip Sirloin Steak to every father who comes into the restaurant with their family on Sunday. This means that you, again, will of course have to pay for your meal (because the restaurant has to make money somehow), but your father won’t have to pay a dime. For more information on the Free Steak for Dad on Father’s Day at the Pantry, please visit the Pantry website or the VERVE Crowne Plaza’s Facebook page.

Finally, if your father is a big Red Sox fan (and the heart of all Red Sox fans goes out to him this year if that is indeed the case), PhotoWalks may have a great way for you to show your Dad how much he means to you. This is because PhotoWalks is hosting a Father’s Day Scavenger Hunt around Fenway Park from 12:30 to 2:30 PM on Sunday. This family-friendly photo scavenger hunt, which begins at the Cask ‘n’ Flagon, will allow you and your dad to solve a series of clues about the oldest baseball park still operating in the U.S., Boston’s beloved major league baseball team, and the surrounding area. For more information on the Father’s Day Scavenger Hunt and/or to make a reservation for the event, please visit the PhotoWalks website.

Photo credit: bsoist / Foter / CC BY-ND

Move Your Body This Summer

Zumba Crowd
Dancing has existed as a form of expression since prehistoric times, and while the form of popular dance has certainly changed over the millennia, there is no sign that the desire to move our bodies to the sound of music will ever truly fade. However, as the old saying goes, “it takes two to tango”, and there’s really no doubt that it can be truly lonely and depressing to spend all of your time dancing by yourself. In fact, unless you dance in a fashion that you really don’t want anyone else to see (in which case you should get out on the dance floor and take Susanna Clark and Richard Leigh’s advice and “Dance like nobody’s watching”), it’s pretty hard to keep up the motivation to improve your dancing skills and improve your body without other people. As a result, if you’re looking for a way to find some people that you can move your body with, you may want to check out some of these events.

First, if you’re looking for a way to not only learn some of the basics of dancing but also to see skilled dancers demonstrate their abilities, the Dance for World Community Festival may be exactly what you’re looking for. This is because the Dance for World Community Festival, which is scheduled to take place at the Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre in Cambridge from 12:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. tomorrow (Saturday, June 13, 2015), is designed to expose newcomers to the world of dance and show everyone how dance can truly connect us all. This festival will feature activities for kids, a dance party that will allow you to dance in the streets, introductory dance classes, food, over 80 dance performances, and more. For more information on the Dance for World Community Festival, which is completely free and open to the public, please visit the Dance for World Community website.

Secondly, if you’re interested in actually taking dance classes and you’ve always wanted to learn how to line dance, the Franklin Park Coalition may have the perfect opportunity for you to do exactly that. In fact, the Franklin Park Coalition is hosting a free line dancing class every Wednesday from now until September 16th at Refectory Hill. This class, which runs from 6:30 to 7:30 P.M. (or until it’s too dark and everyone has collapsed from exhaustion), will give novices and experts alike the opportunity to learn and enjoy line dances from around the country. For more information on the Line Dancing classes sponsored by the Franklin Park Coalition and the Boston Rhythm Riders, please visit the Franklin Park Coalition’s Program page.

Finally, if you’re not really into line dancing, but you’d like to learn how to salsa or Zumba, you may want to check out some of the classes offered by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. The Boston Parks and Recreation Department and the Boston Public Health Commission are sponsoring a series of free fitness classes this summer as part of their Boston Parks Summer Fitness Series. These classes include boot camps, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts, line dancing, salsa dancing, tai chi, yoga, and Zumba. For more information on the classes that are being offered this summer by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, including times and locations, please take a look at a copy of the Boston Public Health Commission’s 2015 Summer Fitness Series Brochure.

Photo credit: Cimm / Foter / CC BY

Free Salem Scavenger Hunt

The Witch House (Salem MA)
Are you an art fan planning to be in the Salem area this weekend? Well, if you are, you may want to check out the Salem Art Festival. The Salem Art Festival is a three-day celebration of art in all its forms, including the culinary arts, dance, film, music, painting, performance art, photography, poetry, sculpture, writing, theatre, and a whole lot more. In fact, the festival, which runs from today (June 5, 2015) until Sunday (June 7, 2015) has been giving local artists an opportunity to show off their work for seven years now, so there will be no shortage of things to see and people trying to see him.

However, if you’re concerned that your children may be a little too young for a large amount of family-friendly art, or in other words, will be bored out of their skulls by the time you’ve reached the second painting, you may be looking for something to keep them busy. If this is indeed the case, you’re in luck because this free scavenger hunt designed for children under the age of 12 will have you children looking for all of the famous (and not so-famous) landmarks around downtown Salem while you’re moving from one art location to the next (just so you know, the last location will have your kids looking for ice cream. You have been warned.)

Clue 1:
A very large bird after a long day in the sky,
Would return to his home on these sticks up high.

Clue 2:
Just as water flows down the side of a great mountain,
So too will it flow over you as it leaps from the…

Clue 3:
I have two hands upon my face.
You check my time to keep your pace.

Clue 4:
I ride on this right out of the room,
I’m magically powered with a crescent moon.

Clue 5:
During life, the falsely accused did their best,
But now their memorials all do rest,
By the side of the men who believed them unblessed.

Clue 6:
This museum is dedicated to people who were simply misunderstood
Because sometimes those who seem wicked are actually quite good.

Clue 7:
The first part of this place’s name is a person who uses a broom but has never swept the floor,
The second part of this place’s name is somewhere you live with your very own door.

Clue 8:
Looking for something oh so sweet?
Maria’s has something cold that is sure to help you beat the heat.

Answers: 1. The Stickwork Project’s Giant Bird Nests; 2. Fountain; 3. Almy’s Clock; 4. Bewitched Statue; 5. The Burying Point; 6. Witch Museum or Witch History Museum; 7. Witch House; 8. Maria’s Sweet Somethings.

Where Is All This Stuff? (All Locations are in Downtown Salem, MA):
1. The giant bird nests are part of the Stickwork art exhibit sculpted by Patrick Doherty, and these nest-like sculptures can be found in front of the Crowinshield-Bentley House at 126 Essex Street.
2. There are actually two fountains located on the pedestrian walkway on Essex Street, so you can look for one or both of them if you so choose. The first fountain (if you’re walking from the Crowinshield-Bentley House) is located in front of the Museum Place Mall and the second fountain is located across from Rockafellas at 231 Essex Street
3. The Almy’s Clock, which is the only thing left of the Almy’s, Bigelow, & Washburn Department Store that stood on the site until 1982, is located in front of the Commonwealth Financial Offices at 192 Essex Street.
4. The Bewitched Statue, which is a tribute to the fictional character Samantha Stephens from the famous TV series Bewitched, is located in Lappin Park at the intersection of Essex and Washington Street right in front of the Gulu Gulu Cafe.
5. The Burying Point, which was first established in 1637, is the oldest cemetery in Salem and the site of both John Hathorne, one of the judges that presided over the witch trials, and the site of the memorial to the victims of the trials. The Burying Point is located on Charter Street behind the Peabody Essex Museum.
6. The Salem Witch Museum and the Salem Witch History Museum, which are run by two completely different organizations, are both dedicated to teaching people about the events of the Salem witch trials and the innocent individuals who became victims of the witch hysteria. The Salem Witch Museum is located at 19 1/2 North Washington Square diagonally across from Salem Common and the Witch History Museum is located on the pedestrian walkway at 197 Essex Street.
7. The Witch House, which was the home of Jonathan Corwin, is located at 310 Essex Street. Jonathan Corwin was one of the judges that presided over the witch trials, and his home is one of the only structures from the period with a direct link to the trials that is still standing.
8. Maria’s Sweet Somethings is a souvenir, sweets, and ice cream shop located at 26 Front Street right around corner from most of the art festival’s exhibits.

Photo credit: / Foter / CC BY