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We Are Not Eating Ariel, and Other Tales of False Advertising

A few years ago, we had tilapia filets for dinner. Joel, age four, remarked on the color of the meat. He wondered why fish is always white. My husband told him some fish, like salmon and tuna, are pinkish or orange.

Joel said, “I know what tuna is. It’s mermaid meat.”

The cans of tuna in the cupboard feature a smiling blonde mermaid on the label. It’s is false advertising when you are a four-year-old boy who judges the contents of the can by the label outside. Hopefully he doesn’t think the cans of O-shaped pasta in red sauce contain a little smiling Chef.

My pre-reading son goes through life bombarded by signs and symbols. Restaurants and junk foods have perfected this art. When my kids were mere toddlers, they could recognize the golden arches sign as the wellspring of french fries and deep-fried chicken chunks.

Savvy marketers trumpet a certain restaurant where a kid can be a kid.

Deals: Summer fun in Denver, Porch-traits from Outlets at Castle Rock and more!

I have a list of little errands to run that is getting really long! I have skipped on haircuts. I need to get a new passport photo. I need to finally wash my car (although I’m not going anywhere – so I’m not sure why I need that one). I have several library books that need to be returned. We need to go see the dentist. How long is your list getting? Are you going to be running a crazy amount of errands when the world opens again like me?

Denver Summer Activity Guide. Amber published our annual 2020 Denver Summer Activity Guide with 150+ activities! Many indoor facilities will be opening in the coming weeks so be sure to bookmark this tremendous resource. And, of course, she also listed lots of free, outdoor fun for the whole family. 

Free Drive-in Movie.  If you need some kind of human interaction while still social distancing, check out this FREE drive in movie at City Church Boulder on Friday, May 22. The family-friendly film “Trills World Tour” will be screened. The evening starts at 7:45 p.m. and wraps up no later than 10:30 p.m

Big Savings at Ross. Do you miss your shopping trips? Ross Dress for Less is notorious for their great deals and they’re planning to reopen their Colorado locations on Wednesday at 10 a.m. with some fantastic savings. 

 Library. I love my library. All kinds of great entertainment for nothing more than signing up and getting a free card. The Douglas County Library opened once again. Reserve your media online. When it is ready for pick up, park in the designated spots. Call up to the library. They bring your books/movies/cds down to you! Simple and easy.   

Dunkin Donuts. Sign up for Dunkin Donuts free rewards program, get a free donut with any drink purchase every Friday, all May. (And I’ve gotten emails for a $2 iced coffee every Monday).

Krispy Kreme Celebrates Grads. Graduates in the class of 2020 bring your diploma/certificate to Krispy Kreme on May 19 for a free dozen donuts.

Buffalo Wild Wings. So we may be missing sports – but we don’t have to miss the sports-related food! Get buy one, get one free traditional wings on Tuesdays when you order takeout or delivery where available, on buffalowildwings.com or through the Buffalo Wild Wings app. Only for a limited time.

 McDonald’s Fries. Get free fries on Fridays at McDonald’s with the purchase of a dollar or more. To get the deal you need to order on the app to redeem the deal. Deal is good for one order per Friday through the end of June.

Firehouse Subs. You can help first responders just by eating. Yes, get the Firehouse Subs Family Meal deal which includes a choice of one of three subs (Hook & Ladder; Italian or Meatball), three chips and three cookies for just $24. A portion of the proceeds helps provide lifesaving equipment ot first responders…(I also love a company that recognizes not all “family packs” are to feed four people – my family is just me, my son and my daughter – THREE)

Porch-traits from Outlets at Castle Rock. On May 22 and 23, Outlets will bring a professional photographer to your front porch or yard and capture this time from a distance. Package includes a 20-minute photo session, and $25 Outlets at Castle Rock gift card. To sign up visit: https://www.outletsatcastlerock.com/event/Porchtrait-Photo-Sessions/2145542899/

Lands EndLands End is celebrating International Swimsuit Day on May 19th by having a rare swimsuit sale at the first of the season with 60% off! Use code: SWIMSUIT

IKEA Blanket Forts. Have you bought something from IKEA and needed to put it together? Then you know IKEA has some awesome instructions. Now, they are offering instructions on how to build some awesome blanket forts! https://edition.cnn.com/2020/05/15/world/ikea-russia-blanket-forts-trnd/index.html

 
 

Mary Poppins Returns in Magical Style

Mary Poppins, queen of all nannies, with her wondrously deep carpet bag and sassy umbrella, floats into London and onto big screens everywhere just in time for Christmas. Emily Blunt has some stylish and magical shoes to fill as she takes on one of the most iconic characters in movie history.

Mary Poppins Returns is not a retelling of the original story. Rather, two decades have passed since the Practically Perfect Mary left with changing winds. Michael and Jane Banks are grown up. Michael (Ben Wishaw), a recent widower with three young children, finds himself about to lose the family home. In his fog of grief, things fell through the cracks. Jane (Emily Mortimer), the steadier older sister, has inherited her mother’s love of political activism. She is a great help to Michael and her nephews and niece, but can’t help heal their wounded hearts. Who can?

Through a lovely nod to the past, Mary is successfully summoned to 17 Cherry Tree Lane, London. She make it clear she is there to help all five of the Banks children. She sweeps in with her crisp, but warm, sense of duty and authority and truly hits the ground running (or swimming?) Nobody has forgotten her and she hasn’t aged a day. Of course.

Every Mary must have her Burt. Mary Poppins Returns introduces us to Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), a London lamplighter in a brotherhood that’s just as musical and spry as the chimney sweeps of old. Jack was a child when his friend Burt knew Mary. Jack knew her as well, so when Mary returns he is not surprised by her abilities. He is willing and able to dive right in to all the merry adventures inevitably in store.

Being Lin-Manuel Miranda, it’s a given he will sing and dance. One of the many show-stopping songs, “A Cover is Not the Book” is a cheeky, highly energetic song and dance duet with Emily Blunt. It takes place in a colorful cartoon landscape that is animated in the exact style as golden-age Disney animated movies. It’s absolutely delightful to watch that style after years of slick computer animated fare. The effect of nostalgia it creates is wonderful and warm.

Nostalgia is the foundation of this film. It definitely helps if you and your kids have seen the original 1964 Mary Poppins starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke (who makes a memorable cameo in this film, too, reprising one of his characters). At times, it felt like Mary Poppins Returns wanted to match the first outing song by song and theme by theme. Even characters have their counterparts. Meryl Streep is Topsy, who reminds us of Uncle Albert. Jack is Burt and the lamplighters are the new chimney sweeps. The bankers continue to be the villains. Colin Firth is Wilkins, the nephew of Mr. Dawes who terrorized boy Michael by wanting his tuppence. Can he be reformed, too? It might take a kite, or maybe this time around, a balloon?

Mary Poppins Returns is visually beautiful. It is packed with fun songs and some heartfelt moments. Grief and loss are central themes and Blunt does a great job walking the tightrope of being no-nonsense Mary with empathy and love for all the children in her care, even the grown kind. Sometimes, the placement and song styles was distracting and took me out of the film. Oh, here is the “Chim Chim Cheree” of 2018. Will “The Place Where Lost Things Go” become the new “Feed the Birds”? Overall, it was a lovely experience to imagine and see Mary return.

Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns opens on Wednesday, December 19, 2018. It is rated PG. Directed by Rob Marshall with songs and score by Marc Shaiman, starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

 

Don’t Miss Christmas In Color’s Colorado Debut at Water World

December is here! You know what that means. Wrapping presents, baking cookies, putting your kids in their coziest pajamas and heading to Water World on a cold winter’s night.

Wait. What?

Christmas in Color, a new-to-Colorado holiday attraction has taken over the massive Water World parking lot in a spectacular way. Over 1.5 million lights have been thoughtfully synchronized with your favorite holiday music to create a dazzling experience of sights and sounds. You get to slowly drive your vehicle along twisty illuminated paths. You’ll cruise through rainbow-hued tunnels, spot singing snowmen, and get to make merry memories with the crew in your car.

If you enjoy driving around to scope out the best holiday lights in your neighborhood or city, you will love the creativity and whimsy of what will sure to be a new Colorado family tradition.

To learn more and purchase your advanced tickets, visit www.christmasincolor.net.

A few tips for when you go:

On Tuesdays through Thursdays, if you book your tickets in the first hour of operation, you can go through again for free, or bring a second car along and they get to go for free. They must arrive with you and you must tell the ticket taker.

Enter at the Pecos Street entrance, on the east side of the park. The exit is on 90th Avenue.

They give out 3D glasses while supplies last, but if you have some, take them along!

You must have a working FM radio to get the full experience with music (and a few corny jokes!)

Christmas in Color is open from now until December 31, 2018.

Advanced tickets are strongly recommended. You can buy them at the gate, but there is a separate line and they could sell out.

There is a 10 ft. height limit on vehicles. Also, longer vehicles like limos and trailers are not allowed. Some of the turns can be tight.

Drive slowly. Really soak it in! In this constantly rushing season, there is no reason to speed through. Just don’t stop.

Online vehicle admission Monday – Thursday from 5:30 to 10:00 p.m. – $25   **Except for the days of 12/19-12/24 it will be weekend pricing. Online vehicle admission Friday & Saturday from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. – $30. Closed on Christmas Day.

Giveaway!

Win a free visit for one vehicle (car, van, truck)! The winner will receive a code to redeem a visit, subject to availability. You may enter as many as five times.

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Halloween is not the devil’s birthday

Several years ago, a woman at our church told our oldest son, Ryley, that it was bad to celebrate Halloween because it is the devil’s birthday.

Quickly:

1. It is not the devil’s birthday.
2. It is not the devil’s birthday.
3. It is not the devil’s birthday.

We strongly assured him our family wouldn’t celebrate such a thing, and Halloween was not an evil day. I was furious that an adult would tell a lie like that to a little boy, especially at church. I really don’t care if she doesn’t observe Halloween, but she had no right to stomp all over one of our wholesome family traditions.

It is true that in recent years, Halloween has been highjacked by adults as an excuse to dress like prostitutes and party like it’s A.D. 59 in Rome. Images of death and horror are replacing good clean apple-bobbing fun. Why?

Because we are letting it happen. 

I think when families give up on Halloween, we shouldn’t be surprised to see something ugly fill the void. When most of us were kids, we still roamed our neighborhoods on October 31st. Huge packs of flashlight-waving kids went door-to-door together. Neighbors actually saw each other, thanked each other, and marveled at all the Bionic Women and Six Million Dollar Men there were that year. We returned home exhausted. After dumping our sugary loot on the dining room table, we got to pick one piece to eat before bed. What a night!

Now? Not.

It’s malls, church basements, school gyms. It’s still community, but the adventure, the darkness, the walking in the snap of October night, the thrill, the approach to the house, the ringing of the bell, the anticipation, the opening, the neighbor smiling, the bowl, the unison of Trick-or-Treat, the little ones following with small shouts a second or two behind, the laughter, the thank you, the walking back down the steps, the admiration of the jack-o-lanterns, the comparisons, the decisions regarding left or right, north or south, the tired walk back home, the inspection, the trades, the falling into bed, the costumes in a heap on the floor, the talk of next year, I’m gonna be a cowboy.

All that? Gone, in the name of being safe from a threat which really isn’t there. Unless you let it move in.

Not on our street. We are taking Halloween back.

 

 

Contest: Crazed Corn Days and Zombie Nights at Maize in the City

Would you describe yourself as a bit of a scaredy-cat? Or, are you the type to revel in serious spookiness? Either way, you can take your family’s October to a whole new level at Maize in the City. Located in Thornton since 2001, Maize in the City offers two distinct experiences to maximize your style off Fall fun.

For a more family-friendly day time experience, conquer the Crazed Corn Field Maze. 20 acres of twisty turns through tall stalks encourage collaboration, togetherness, and a mighty sense of accomplishment when you pop out the exit, triumphant. Along the way, play a trivia game on your smartphone to get clues about which way to turn. Or, rely on your amazing navigational sense to see you through. Ten check-in stations let you know you are on the right track. Or, if your family has little ones, the Mini Maze might be more your speed and size.

My eight and six year old boys loved guiding us through the Crazed Corn Field Maze. They were a great age to step back a bit and let them enjoy the challenge of finding our way through.

When you have beat the Crazed Corn Field or Mini Maze, enjoy time bouncing around on inflatables, sandbox-style play in 2500 pounds of corn kernels, or romping at one of the other attractions (additional pricing may apply). Pony rides, a petting zoo, barrel train rides, sand art, a playground, and food concessions mean you can spend the day having farm-based fun.

Last year, they sold over 200,000 pounds of pumpkins. Your future jack-o’-lanterns might me in one of the massive piles for sale. They have all shapes, sizes, and colors. Load up the handy wheelbarrows with your perfect picks!

Ready to zap zombies? Confront killer clowns? Cheat Death? Haunted Field of Screams  is a nighttime attraction for those who love to get their scare on.

Four distinct experiences await for one price! Luckily they range from the tamer, still freaky Zombie Paintball Massacre to a deeply scary trek through the darkness of Dead Man’s Maze. It is not recommended for children under 12. It may not be recommended for you, either. You know who you are. If seeing a spider in your shower makes your blood run cold, this isn’t for you.

I didn’t think it was for me, either, but I took my two teenaged boys along to protect me. We had a blast shooting zombies with real paint guns from the side of a truck that wound its way through the corn. That was until it was time to exit the corn and we were chased by a chainsaw-wielding zombie. My boys are fast runners. I am not. Yet, there is something amazing about running through a corn field in the deep dark of the night as a zombie chases you. Nothing will make you feel more alive than bursting out the exit to scold your sons for leaving you to become zombie food.

Haunted Field of Screams has a concessions area with seating and carnival games as well. It is open at sundown Thursdays through Sundays for the rest of October, plus Halloween night.

For more information about pricing, hours, and directions, visit HauntedFieldofScreams.com and MaizeInTheCity.com

CONTEST

Mile High Mamas is giving away a Family 4-Pack of tickets to The Crazed Corn Maze at Maize in the City. This is the daytime attraction. It includes the Corn Kernel Box and playground access, as well as access to the pumpkins for sale. You may enter as many as five times.

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Movie Review: Disney’s “Christopher Robin” Stuffs Fresh Fluff into Winnie the Pooh

Disney’s latest live-action family film is a trip down memory lane. That lane leads straight to the One Hundred Acre Wood. You know it as the place where a lad named Christopher Robin spent barefoot childhood days with his gang of beloved friends. Where animated Disney films focused on A.A. Milne’s treasured Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, and the other stuffed-with-fluff lovies, Christopher Robin is centered around the boy—and eventually the man— himself.

Through a nicely done montage, we watch Christopher (Ewan McGregor) grow up. He endures heartache. He falls in love with wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and marries. World War Two breaks out. He returns home to a daughter, Madeline (Bronte Carmichael), who was born while he was away. Is he the same person Winnie the Pooh misses and Evelyn married? Does he even remember the silly ol’ bear when career and family pressures mount?

Grown-up viewers will identify with Christopher’s mix of struggles, stressors, and sense that everything idyllic and magical is behind them. jA lot of the more serious elements of the film will sail straight over younger viewers heads. Thankfully, comic relief abounds exactly where you’d expect it:

Winnie the Pooh.

If you think he’s merely a figment of Christopher Robin’s imagination, you are wrong. Voiced by Jim Cummings, he is as sweet and sticky and earnest as always. But he’s real, real enough to travel to London and get into the kind of trouble you’d expect. Honey is involved. Lots and lots of honey.

The sequences with Winnie the Pooh and friends are delightful, funny, and the best parts of the film. Frequent nods to the Pooh you remember from your own childhood are most welcome. Tigger sings his Tigger song, Eeyore is mopey, Rabbit is bossy, Kanga is calm, Roo is curious, Owl is a know-it-all, and Piglet is worried — yet they are dear friends devoted to messy picnics, Pooh Sticks, and each other.

Family and friendship come first in Christopher Robin.

The pacing can be slow and quiet, particularly as it builds in the first half of the film. It’s directed by Mark Forster, who has directed some very not-Pooh bear films like World War Z and Quantum of Solace. The scenery and mood is one of sun-soaked nostalgia, with waving fields of wildflowers in the English countryside turning into foggy mystery, cold post-war London, and back again.

It’s good to know the One Hundred Acre Wood is out there. Somewhere.

Christopher Robin opens on Friday August 3, 2018. It’s rated PG.

 

Contest: How to Get a “Good Buy” On Your Baby Gear

Summer boredom has started creeping into the house. Knees can only be skinned at the playground so many times. Let’s call it: sometimes you just need a day inside, with quiet times, books, and maybe something to keep those popsicle-stained hands busy for a bit.

Good Buy Gear to the rescue! My kids and I explored the website and found great play options in their Art & Music, Building, and Puzzles & Games sections. A lot of the offerings are gently used, but they also have many new, but still discounted, items from well-known companies like Melissa & Doug, Cra-Z-art, and others.

We chose four very fun looking craft kits. I could have chosen the 1-3 day delivery option for $5 (free for orders over $60), but instead we opted to make a trip to the Good Buy Gear warehouse for free pickup. After a few hours, I got a notification that our order was ready for pickup! I was super-impressed with the speedy service and convenient options.

Picking up our order wasn’t any more challenging than going to the store, although my daughter remarked it was “edgy” which added to the adventure! (Don’t worry. It’s only edgy if you are under 12.) We rang the bell as instructed and were let in immediately. Our crafty stuff was bagged and waiting. It was so easy and the staff we encountered was very friendly.

Good Buy Gear was there when we needed a change of routine but didn’t want to spend a fortune!

Contest

Win $50 shopping spree on Good Buy Gear. You may enter as many as five times below. 

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For those who have gear to sell, don’t miss our review on their White Glove pickup service. In partnership with Mile High Mamas.

Incredibles 2 is Incredible, Too

It has been nearly 13 years since we met The Incredibles. The family of superheroes zoomed off with our hearts and stretched our imaginations. Since then, we have been treated to a parade of superheroes. From Marvel to DC to superheroes invented to sell cars on local TV, we are a culture that loves the thought of being rescued by charming people with amazing powers. Some of us even dream of having a few superpowers of our own. The Amazing Invisible Mom, anyone?

While we had to wait an entire teenager for another Incredibles film to swoop into theaters, Incredibles 2 picks up, literally, where the first movie left off. Without missing a beat, we are reconnected with the Parr family about to take on Underminer. The battle to undermine Underminer showcases deft and creative fun animated action sequences that not only entertain but highlight the family’s strengths—and weaknesses.

Incredibles 2 is loyally consistent with the themes established in the first go-round. Identity and family dynamics are always in the forefront. How do you raise normal kids, go to work, provide, guide, soothe, and find your own way when you have to keep so many secrets? Worst of all, how do you sleep at night knowing you aren’t able to express your true self?

More importantly (and amusingly): How do you sleep at night when you have a baby with dozens of uncontrolled superpowers? You don’t.

Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) find themselves switching their roles. She goes off to work for the wealthy Deavor siblings, Winston (Bob Odenkirk) and Evelyn (Catherine Keener). They promise to use their connections and technology to make it legal for Supers to wield their powers in public again. Meanwhile, Mr. Incredible/Bob stays home to grapple with the wildly varying needs of their three kids. He stumbles and fumbles everything from dealing with Violet’s broken heart to Dash’s schoolwork to the highly challenging and very surprising development of Jack-Jack’s deep set of skills.

He also (very humanly) struggles with jealousy as Elastigirl/Helen uncovers a truly creepy villainous plot and gains worldwide fame. But can she fight this battle on her own?

Incredibles 2 honors the first film by deftly switching focus between action-packed battle scenes, laugh out loud comedy, and quieter, introspective moments. Brad Bird, who wrote and directed both films, retains the spirit of the first movie while taking this new offering to higher heights. It’s a movie aimed at children and families, but it’s also thoughtfully stocked with things for adults to ponder while emptying a large bucket of popcorn.

Incredibles 2 is slick, stylish fun with intelligence and heart.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Incredibles 2 is a Disney/Pixar film. It is rated PG and opens officially on June 15, 2018.

Tips for Taking Your Family to see the Rockies This Summer

Do your veins bleed Rockies purple? Do you know every square inch of Coors Field? Do you know what Charlie Blackmon likes on his pizza? If so, then carry on with your awesome superfan ways.

If you just thought, “Who is Charlie Blackmon, and where is this field of Coors?” we are here to help. One of the best, most memorable family outings is a trip to the ballpark. Luckily, we happen to have a gorgeous, storied, highly accessible home to the fun-to-follow Colorado Rockies. They are celebrating their 25th season and your family can painlessly plan your day out at the ballgame. Here are some tips and tricks to maximize your good time at the game.

How do we get tickets? This is easy. You can purchase your tickets at Coors Field or any of their five Dugout Stores, which are sprinkled around the metro area. Or, you can go to www.mlb.com/rockies and click on tickets. For games against highly popular teams, like the Cubs, you’ll want to pounce early.

Where should we sit? There are no bad seats at Coors Field. It’s a gorgeous facility with stunning views of the field and beyond. However, there are sections that are better suited for families, especially with young kids. You might want to avoid foul ball zones in the lowest (100) level if you are concerned about being distracted during the game. The Rockies extended the safety netting before the 2018 season started, but it’s something to consider if you can’t watch every swing of the bat and have the skills to react to a ball coming your way.

Lower section 342, along the third base side, is a designated family section. No alcohol is allowed.

The sun can be brutal during afternoon games with little shade if you have seats along the first base line, extending from right to center field. If sun is a concern, increasing shade through the afternoon into the evening is a savior on the third base line.

Up on the Rooftop, which seems to be the section of choice for 20-somethings, they have a nice shady area with cushioned couches and a pool patio vibe. Unfortunately, you can’t see the actual field from your comfy spot but they do have the TV feed on several screens.

What should we eat? The food options are seemingly endless. Ballpark prices aren’t famous for thrift, however. One great option for kids is Buckaroos, located at section 149. For $5, they can get a kids meal with different entree options, a side, a drink, and some cookies packed in a handy box.

You can bring your own food as well! Make sure you follow the security protocols.

What should we do and see while we are at Coors Field? Obviously, watch the game. But if your little one isn’t into studying the intricacies of a pitcher staring down a potential second base stealer, there are plenty of entertainment options. Take them to the playground located next to Buckaroos in section 149. At Gate A, they can test their baseball skills with Pro Batter Jr., Tee Ball, or join the Rockies Rookies Fan Club to get season-long benefits with fun events.

A must is the meet and greet with Dinger, the Rockies’ very own triceratops. He hangs out behind the waterfall in centerfield every third inning. Start lining up during the second inning for the best chance to get your child’s photo snapped with him. You can get his autograph, too! Have him sign a shirt, hat, or program for a special souvenir.

Don’t forget to stand and sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the Seventh Inning Stretch. If you don’t know the words, that is okay. They stream the storied lyrics on the brand-new 8400 square foot jumbo screen which is a sight to see in itself. That’s like 750 60-inch TVs sewn together like a big quilt of colorful awesomeness.

Odds and Ends to Make the Most of Your Family’s Ballpark Experience:

~ If you have a stroller, you can claim-check it outside the gates. They have people who watch a sea a strollers because you cannot take them into the ballpark.

~ Did you forget the sunscreen? Visit the First Aid stations at sections 133 or 330. They have giant pump bottles of sunscreen because it’s a very sunny place!

~ Watch the calendar for special events. The Rockies have some of the best fireworks shows around and they will sell out—but you have three chances to see them; on July 3rd and 4th, or September 28th. They also have themed games and special promotions where fans get t-shirts, posters, bobbleheads, beach towels, coolers, and many other goodies to take home.

Some of the upcoming fun events include Star Wars Night on July 28th, Faith Day + Free post-game Concert, Bark at the Park (bring your doggie, special ticketing required), Movie Night, Beatles Tribute Night, and even a Peanut Allergy Friendly game on September 3rd.

~ Hashtag the photos you share on social media with #ILoveCoorsField and #Rockies25th. They often share your snaps on the massive screen before home games.

~ The @Rockies Twitter feed is widely considered to be the best in all of Major League Baseball. Not only is it informative and timely with updates about weather delays, conditions, and player reports, it is very funny and innovative. They love to engage with fans.

~ Take a tour! They have in-season and off-season times. You can even tour the field on a game day, but only if it’s an evening game. Book your tour time in advance online for the best chance of availability.

For more information, visit mlb.com/rockies

Play ball!