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posted: 5/29/2013 2:41 PM

Fox Valley welcomes summer with water parks, wine and music

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As Aurora native and weatherman extraordinaire Tom Skilling will have us know, June 1 marks the official beginning of "meteorological summer."

And, based on his forecasts, it looks like the thermometer will agree. So let us proclaim that summer is officially here (even if your calendar says it won't begin until June 21).

At the Fox Valley Park District, we've had summer programs and events in the plans since January. So we're more than ready for the warm-weather celebration to begin. Here are some highlights:

Water parks open Saturday: Nothing screams summer better than water slides, beaches and pools. There's crazy-cool fun to be had every day at Splash Country Water Park and Phillips Park Family Aquatic Center.

The best (and by, most affordable) way to maximize your summer fun is with a season pass. If you missed the preseason sale, there's still time to get discount pricing.

A one-day season pass sale will be held at Splash Bash (June 8) and Phillips Fest (June 15). Your admission price that day will go toward the purchase of a season pass, and you'll be good to go for the rest of the summer -- at both water parks.

It's a double-deal with perks, including early entry (30 minutes) on weekdays. You'll be living large.

Live and Uncorked at Blackberry Farm: This new event brings out the best of summer. Guests will be treated to live, outdoor music while enjoying a beverage or three a traditional summer-sippin' favorite -- beer, wine and soda -- included with admission. Additional drinks are available for purchase.

You'll experience the "new" Blackberry Farm and all of its modern amenities, including the entertainment pavilion where the shows will be performed.

It all begins Tuesday, June 4, with Jonathan Devine and New Country -- plus line dance demonstrations for those who want to learn a little steppin' out.

Future shows include Frank and Dave on July 9 and Associates on Aug. 6.

Summer Youth Camps: With more than 70 camps available -- offering children just about every activity imaginable -- there are engaging opportunities for not only fun, but education and learning as they enjoy time off from school.

But these camps won't feel like school -- kids will learn while having a blast.

Two favorites are Parker's Exploration Camps (ages 7 to 12) and the Volunteen Camp (ages 13 to 16). Both feature team-building activities where campers learn to work together to confront challenges and solve issues.

Parker's campers will enjoy field trips and various indoor and outdoor activities. Volunteens will be out and about in the community, making new social contacts, enjoying hands-on experiences and sharing their time and talent.

And there are the Ultimate Destination Camps -- with different themes each week at different parks and facilities. Sign up for all seven or just one. Working parents love these camps, too, knowing their kids are safe and happy while enjoying great experiences.

They're all special moments, which is why summer is always associated with the best of times.

Jeff Long is the public relations manager for the Fox Valley Park District. Contact him at