background img

25+ Fabulous Fourth of July Recipes

There’s nothing quite like celebrating the Fourth of July as we honor this beautiful country. Don’t miss these delicious and easy recipes for your festivities.  Also, don’t miss Denver’s top events for 4th of July weekend!

Berry Trifle at skinnytaste.com
 

Patriotic Funffetti Angel Food Cake at Life With The Crust Cut Off

Fourth of July Desserts. These red, white, and blue festive Patriotic Recipes are perfect to celebrate Independence Day.

Fourth of July Bark at Life With The Crust Cut Off

Fourth of July Desserts. These red, white, and blue festive Patriotic Recipes are perfect to celebrate Independence Day.

 

 

Blue Moon Ice Cream at Your Homebased Mom

Fourth of July Recipes and Festive Decor...Over 25 yummy ideas at the36thavenue.com

 

Red, White and Blue Strawberry Cupcakes by Bird On A Cake

 

 White chocolate M&M popcorn at Kleinworth & Co.

White Chocolate Popcorn

Sandwich Pops at  Living Locurto.

 Easy Patriotic Ice Cream Sandwich Pops by Amy Locurto @ LivingLocurto.com

Red, White and Blue Blondie by Your Homebased Mom

M & M Blondies

Almond Cherry Mini Cone Cupcakes at Lady behind the curtain

Lady-Behind-The-Curtain-Almond-Cherry-Mini-Cone-Cupcakes-9

 

Patriotic Ice Cream cones at Noble Pig

 

 
 Here are 20 other fabulous finds!

1. Wave the flag cupcakes by the Blueberry Council

2. Candy bar flags by Oh Nuts

3. Flag shortbread cookies by Sugary Winzy

4. Mini patriotic parfaits by Bubbly Nature Creations

5. Patriotic peppermint patties by Mom on Timeout

6. Star cookies by Gold Medal Flour

7. Patriotic party dip by Hungry Happenings30

8. Stained glass Jello stars by Brown Eyed Baker

9. American flag cheesecake bars by My Recipes

10. Patriotic white chocolate popcorn by A Pumpkin and a Princess

11. Star brownie sandwich cookies by This Silly Girl’s Life

12. Firecracker cupcakes by Oh Nuts

13. 4th of July Rice Krispie treats by Two Sisters Crafting

14. Patriotic cake pops by Party City

15. Red, white and blue berry trifle by Martha Stewart

16. Red, white and blueberry ice cream pie by Yummy Mummy Kitchen

17. Pretzel flag by Country Kitchen Sweetart

18. Patriotic berry kebabs by Marzetti Kitchens

19. Fondant-topped Rice Krispie treats by Bakingdom

20. Patriotic pudding pops by Meg’s Everyday Indulgence

 

Gretchen’s Great Grabs: Portable games, Inventing Room and Murder Mystery

I asked my daughter to complete the sentence, “it’s not summer until…..” She said several things from drinking lemonade, to eating ice cream, to our annual trip to Crested Butte, to . All which, I agree, mean summer! But here is how we are making a little twist on summer this year.

 Portable Corn Hole. My family likes to take little picnics in the mountains or we make our annual trip to Crested Butte. I somehow got dubbed the fun mom/aunt because I love games. I usually bring the Yahtzee game because it is easy, portable, and simple. This year I discovered a portable version of corn hole!

Inventing RoomThe Inventing Room dessert shop makes dessert theatrical. They freeze your ice cream with liquid nitrogen and describe what they are doing with your dessert in a theatrical way! Willy Wonka has nothing on this fun little place. Worth the excursion – and on a nice day take a stroll around Sloan’s Lake.

Educated. Normally summer is a time off anything that has anything to do with “educated.” We prefer the beachy trash novels. But you don’t know what you don’t know and this easy read by Tara Westover put that into perspective.

Murder Mystery. A cheesy movie on Netflix. What else would you expect from Adam Sandler and Jennifer Anniston?   Adam Sandler plays a cop (Nick) finally taking his wife, Audrey (Jennifer Aniston), on a long promised trip. A chance meeting on the flight gets them invited to a family trip on a yacht in Monaco. On the first night of the trip a murder happens and Audrey think she can solve it because she reads Murder Mystery novels and Nick, as a detective thinks he can solve it. But, they are the suspects!

Free Concerts and Movies. My daughter didn’t share this one, but to me nothing is more awesome than a FREE concert (and maybe a picnic) in the park/shopping center or a free movie. We have a whole list – so you can find one near you. 

 

Summer RESET: Tons of technology management tips

Youth will have more time to breathe and explore their interests beyond school, but so often downtime becomes screen time. Summer’s wide open time spans can heighten battles over technology use. This is the perfect time to revisit your family rules and see what’s working and what’s not and come up with summer guidelines. So often parents ask me how to put in rules after having gotten very lax about them. Summer is a great time to think about a reset. 

Youth will have more time to breathe and explore their interests beyond school, but so often downtime becomes screen time. Summer’s wide open time spans can heighten battles over technology use. This is the perfect time to revisit your family rules and see what’s working and what’s not and come up with summer guidelines. 

Before you start, consider using the practices “procedural justice.” Many studies have shown that even if people don’t get their way, as long as they feel respected and that they had some say in the matter, i.e. if there was procedural justice, people are much more likely to go along with rules. It is natural for kids and teens to push back against limits. That’s the normal behavior of an evolving individual. Just remember to start from a place of positivity. You want to convey to them that you really understand why they like tech time so much and that is why we need strategies to keep tech activities in balance. 

Screenagers has many tips and ideas on how to implement a fresh start. CLICK HERE TO RESET!

=====

Host a screening to help spark change.

Find event listings on their site.

Do you organize professional development in schools? We now have a 6-hour, 3-part training module. Request more information here Professional Development.

Stay in touch with the Screenagers community on FacebookTwitter and at www.screenagersmovie.com

23 family-fun events in Denver this week

From the Boulder Magic Show to the Fort Carson Freedom Fest, Denver has plenty of awesome events this week. Be sure to visit our event calendar for full listings. Also, don’t miss Denver Free Days 2019 and our week-by-week guide to FREE outdoor concerts in Denver. 

Colorado Rockies vs. Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field
June 27 – 30 
Enjoy exciting major league baseball and come out to this series between the Colorado Rockies and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Denver Outaws vs. Dallas Rattlers at Broncos Stadium at Mile High 
June 27, 7:00 – 8:30 pm
Don’t miss the thrill and excitement of Major League Lacrosse at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Family-friendly and affordable, the non-stop action will have you on the edge of your seat!

Free Movie at the Park: AQUAMAN at Fronterra Park 
June 27, 7:00 – 11:00 pm
Come and watch a FREE movie with the family. There will be prizes and lots of fun. Party starts at 7pm, movie starts at dusk.

Fort Carson Freedom Fest at Iron Horse Park
June 28 – 29 
The festival is free to attend, but individual activities may include a ticket price. The concert and fireworks show are free.

Dive-In Movie: Quaman at Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park 
June 28 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Dive-In Movies are shown in Island Kingdom Water Park every Friday night June 28 – August 2. The Water Park closes at 6pm with the exception of the Wave Pool, movies beginning around 7:30 pm. Movies are free with any park admission or Season Pass.

Colorado Rapids vs. Los Angeles FC at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park 
June 28, 8:00 – 10:00 pm
Come see the Colorado Rapids as they square off against the Los Angeles FC.

Weaving Words of Wonder at Denver Botanic Gardens 
June 29, 9:30 – 10:30 am
Gather the family and discover the wonders of weaving as you explore Chatfield Farms’ feature art installation by Patrick Dougherty. Take a guided walk in and around Dougherty’s larger-than-life site-specific installation. Complete your experience by weaving natural materials to create small-scale outdoor ornaments for your family. Preregistration is required and class size is limited.

2019 Homesteaders’ Day 2 at Golden History Museum & Park 
June 29, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Celebrate Homesteaders’ Day! Experience 19th century homesteading, explore the historic cabins, try woodstove cooking, learn about blacksmithing, and take a lesson at the one-room schoolhouse.

Colorado Guitar Show & Custom Luthier Expo at Lutheran High School 
June 29, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
The COLORADO GUITAR SHOW & CUSTOM LUTHIER EXPO is the leading “Buy-Sell-Trade” event for new, used, custom-built and vintage collectible guitars in Colorado and the surrounding Western states. The event, now in its 7th year, will be open to the public from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm on Saturday, June 29th, 2019 at the Lutheran High School in Parker, Colorado.

Colorado Renaissance Festival  
June 29 – 30 
Flashback to the 16th Century and journey through a medieval city. Enjoy full-armor jousting, tasty turkey legs, music and a marketplace featuring more than 200 artisans.

17th Annual Blues from the Top Music Festival at Hideaway Park 
June 29, 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
After last year’s record attendance and top talent lineup, Blues From The Top Music Festival doesn’t plan to slow down. This weekend festival has earned the reputation for showcasing some of the best national talent in the business.

Boulder Magic Show at Dairy Arts Center 
June 29, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Following four sold out shows in a row, Braden Carlisle continues to curate the best magic. With styles ranging from mentalism to comedy, Braden will leave you laughing harder than you thought possible at a magic show! As a lover of all things magic, Braden is also a published author of the magic theory book “Agree to Disagree” and hosts a weekly magic podcast titled “Awesome People Talking”. Magicians Alec Mueller and Edward Hammond will open the show. This family-fun show is great for kids – and adults too!

Ongoing General Events

Summer@DEN Series
May 24-Sept. 2
Denver International Airport is brimming with free family-friendly activities all summer. DEN Park on the Plaza will include gardens featuring native Colorado trees and plants, live music, lunchtime fitness classes and family activities. Each Wednesday, join a free, weekly lunchtime workout. Fitness classes include yoga, Pilates, Krav Maga, Zumba and more! Each Friday, enjoy a variety of free, fun, cultural and family-friendly activities and performance and from June 14-July 14 you’ll find free 18-hole mini golf course! Test your putting skills while you wait for your flight or simply as a fun outing. www.flydenver.com/events

Summer of Play
June 21 – August 2
On Friday, June 21, the Art Students League of Denver will launch “Summer of Play,” an invitational exhibition featuring a commissioned piece by the Ladies Fancywork Society, displayed alongside artworks by ASLD’s KidART Camp and Teen Studio instructors. The exhibition, which will r27un through August 2, is focused on playfulness and interactivity.

Moon Month
July
Neil Armstrong said the famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” on July 20, 1969. In honor of this achievement, get your space suits on and come celebrate the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery this July. The #MoonMonth at FCMoD celebrations continue with programs and events all month long! fcmod.org/

Colorado Shakespeare Festival: Twelfth Night at Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre
June 7 – August 11, 2019
Ring in the summer season with an uproarious comedy about thorny love triangles, mistaken identities … and a pair of twins lost at sea. When Viola finds herself shipwrecked and her brother drowned (or so she thinks!), she begins to dress as a man named Cesario. Since 1958, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival has delighted audiences with professional theatre on the CU Boulder campus. Complete your Colorado summer with Shakespeare under the stars in the historic Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre—complimentary seatbacks included. cupresents.org

Butterflies at Chatfield Farms
May 25 – September 2
$4, $2 Gardens or Butterfly Pavilion member, free for children 2 and under
This seasonal habitat is home to hundreds of native butterflies such as swallowtails, monarchs, mourning cloaks and painted ladies. The plants in this house are used as a nectar source for butterfly food and designed to create a whimsical atmosphere for visitors of all ages to enjoy. Learn what types of plants you can add to your garden to attract butterflies and other pollinators. Presented with Butterfly Pavilion.

Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America at the Denver Art Museum
May 5 –August 25
Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America presents the concept of playfulness in postwar American design as a catalyst for creativity and innovation. This exhibition explores how employing playfulness allowed designers to bring fresh ideas to the American home, children’s toys and play spaces, and corporate identities.  The cost is included in general admission which is free for kids 18 and under every day.

Our Senses: Creating Your Reality at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science
April 12 – August 4
When it comes to our senses, hasn’t the number five had enough time in the spotlight? Now other sensory heroes get some overdue attention in Our Senses: Creating Your Reality, a new exhibition at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science for the whole family where you play with color, patterns, sounds, scents, and textures to discover there’s so much more to human senses than just the famous five. www.dmns.org

Denver Art Museum 
Visit the Denver Art Museum this summer where kids receive FREE general admission every day! There is plenty to do during #SummerofPlay2019 at the DAM including family-friendly artmaking in the galleries and in the Paint Studio (opening June 1). Step into the shining world of the new First Light Family Space (opening June 1) and try hands-on activities inspired by the exhibition The Light Show. Don’t miss this summer’s main exhibition, Serious Play: Design in Midcentury America, opening May 5, where children are invited to play in the Free Play Zone at the end of the exhibition where they can try on bold masks and bring them to life in a colorful theater, climb on a wavy playscape by sculptor Isamu Noguchi and creatively combine the pieces of the Tyng Toy.

Images from the Tracks at the Colorado Railroad Museum
January 28, 2019 – January 5, 2020
One of the foremost photographers to photograph the great American West, William Henry Jackson’s images had an immense influence on the public’s perception of the American West. A portion of those images were captured here in Colorado as Jackson traveled throughout the west by rail. This exhibit not only showcases the Museum’s collection of Jackson photographs but provides visitors with the opportunity to visit the rail car he traveled and lived in – the Denver & Rio Grande Western business car – the Rico.

Marine Biologist for a Day at the Downtown Aquarium
Jan 1- Dec 31, 2019
See if you have what it takes to become a Marine Biologist! Spend a day behind the scenes where all the scientific action happens. Experience close encounters with exotic species from the deep sea to shallow reef and everywhere in between. You’ll even get to dissect a squid! Program includes guided tour, biologist dive show, squid dissection, animal feedings and much more! T-shirts & lunch included.

Friday Night Bazaar
June 7- September 27
Celebrate the return of Friday Night Bazaar as they open on June 7th and pop-up weekly in RiNo, River North Art District all summer long from 5-10 p.m. for your shopping & sipping needs! Weekly features include 25+ Local Makers, Food & Fashion Trucks, live DJ and more.  denverbazaar/fridaynightbazaar

Denver’s Best Playgrounds: Then and Now

Time moves fast, doesn’t it? Nothing stays the same for long. When it comes to public playgrounds in Denver, they look a bit different nowadays than in the 1912 postcard above.

The Denver metro area is blessed with a rapid playground turnover rate: every year, the many Parks & Recreation departments tear down dozens of older play areas and put up brand-new installations. Brighter colors, new equipment, safer play environments. Here I share some then-and-now pictures of recently replaced playgrounds, complete with the original year of construction. See if you can spot any improvements!

I wrote the iPhone app Denver Playgrounds & Parks to include every single play area in the metro area – over 750 of them. You will find photos, descriptions, playground age, and much more. Come locate one near you, no matter what part of town you’re in. Visit the App Store or get details at my website, playgroundsdenver.com.

Also, be sure to bookmark our Summer 2019 Denver Activity Guide with 150+ indoor and outdoor activities! 

In Case You Missed It:

 Guest blogger Chris Sekirnjak lives in Wheat Ridge with his wife and young children. His two guide books Denver Playgrounds & Parks and Run, Stroll, Hike were published in 2014 and 2016 and have both been adapted to mobile apps.

 

Deals: Cinema Kids Camp, Half-price Broncos

 
There are two truths about me (OK, probably more than two). I love to eat and I love magazines. I get 5280 Magazine occasionally and often moon over the fantastic restaurants and how, because I’m on a budget and I don’t love eating alone, I may not really get to go to many of them. That is why I’m really excited to get to experience Let’s Roam Dining experience. Exploring Denver’s restaurants and getting it all at a deal. Right now they are offering a 7 day free trial – if you sign up before Wednesday!
 
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Kids Camp. Once again Kids Camp at Alamo Drafthouse  is where to go this summer. Choose your own ticket price of $1, $3, or $5. Enjoy a GREAT movie and 100% of the sales goes to a non profit!

Chick Fil A Free Breakfast. Download the Chick-fil-A app and get a free breakfast each month this summer.

Keystone.  Keystone has some great golf packages that we’ve told you about for a couple weeks now – but did you know they also have some really fun summer events? In addition to the hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and summer tubing…There is the Kidtopia Stars and Guitars (Jun 29-July 7); River Run Art Festival (July 27/28); Wine and Jazz Festival (July 13/14); and the Mountain Town Music Festival (Aug 17).

Winter Park. My daughter and I went to the music festival last weekend in Winter Park. What an amazing place – despite the snow in June, we have an awesome time. Great picturesque mountains and fun events. They have a ton of other events coming up from Fourth of July Celebration, Blues best, Mural Festival and more!
 
Golf at Hyland Hills. For just $35 for a round of golf with a cart between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the Greg Mastriona Course   – that’s a great deal. Plus, with our Colorado weather, you can also get a rain-check for any hole(s) not completed.

Gigi’s Cupcakes. Gigi’s Cupcakes has a special cupcake weekly on Tuesday for just $2.

Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center. If you are looking for something to do this summer, look no further than the Staenberg-Loup Jewish Community Center! With something almost every week – poolside playdates, brunch and tumble, pool parties, musicals!

Denver Broncos Half Price Tickets. Sometimes I feel like time moves really quickly and just now that we are finally getting some good summer-like weather, we’re already talking about football season. (TBH, football is a year-round conversation around our house). Denver Broncos are once again offering ½ price tickets. But you need to pre-register to buy them. They go on sale July 16. So sign up now!

Free Summer Concerts and Movies. One of the best parts about summer is being outside in the warm evenings and what could be better than a picnic in a park and free live music or a movie? Nothing! We’ve rounded up some of the best of the best in town here: Summer Concerts.
 

Free Family Support in the Denver area!

Do you ever wish kids came with a manual? Turns out, they kind of do! Family Tree SafeCare® works with parents and caregivers to provide them with information and skills they can use on a daily basis as their children grow.

Family Tree is a non-profit organization with a mission to help people overcome child abuse, domestic violence and homelessness to become safe, strong and self-reliant.  We have three pillars of excellence: Child & Youth Services, Domestic Violence Services and Housing & Family Stabilization Services.  Child & Youth Services includes programs that keep children safe from abuse and neglect and help stabilize families.

What is Family Tree SafeCare® Colorado and what is the cost? Who is eligible?

SafeCare Colorado is a free, voluntary, Parent Support Program for families with at least one child aged birth to five in the home. SafeCare® Colorado is designed to help reduce parental stress and empower parents/caregivers with new skills as well as building on existing skills they may have already. SafeCare® sessions focus on the following areas: home safety, health and parent child interactions.

Parents/caregivers with at least one child aged birth to five in the home are eligible. SafeCare is available in most Denver metro area counties. Please check this website for a state-wide list: http://coloradoofficeofearlychildhood.force.com

What might be discussed during those in-home visits? 

We know parenting can be both wonderful and stressful. Family Tree SafeCare® staff teach parents and caregivers tools that can make parenting easier and more enjoyable. Many parents have reported feeling more confident in their parenting after the support they received from the Family Tree SafeCare® program.

Family Tree SafeCare® supports and strengthens families by building on the existing skills parents and caregivers already have in the areas of: home safety, child health and parent-child interactions. Topics could include:

Home Safety:   This topic focuses on helping parents understand the importance of a safe home, the types of hazards commonly found in homes, ways to remove/reduce household hazards and the importance of supervision. The SafeCare® program can provide FREE child-proofing supplies to help make the home a safer place for the children.

Child Health:   This topic is designed to help parents/caregivers prepare for when their child is sick or injured; recognize when symptoms need emergency care, a doctor’s appointment or can be cared for at home; to use reference materials to make good health decisions and to keep good health records.  Parents will receive a Health Manual put together by Pediatricians to aid in making informed health decisions for their children. Parents may also receive free first aid supplies for their home.

Parent Child Interaction:   This topic is for parents/caregivers of children ages 18 months to 5 years of age. The goal is to help parents to plan and organize daily and play activities. Parents learn to positively interact with their children, enhance the parent-child relationship and prevent/reduce challenging child behavior.  This topic will teach parent s to use age-appropriate activities to reduce parental stress and to improve a child’s social competence, academic performance, psychological development and well-being.

Parent Infant Interaction: This topic is for parents of children aged 0-18 months.  The goals of this topic are to increase positive interactions with their infant that support development, enhance responsiveness to infant needs and signals and to learn about infant development and age-appropriate interactions.

If you or a family you know, has a child aged birth to five, and may be interested in receiving free, in home, parenting support please reach out to Family Tree SafeCare at www.thefamilytree.org/safecare-program or (720) 492-9086!

 

Pot clubs coming to a community near you?

Colorado just took a big step towards more public marijuana use but your local community can still prevent it.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis late last month signed into law House Bill 19-1230, which allows adults to consume marijuana in public places like pot clubs, tasting rooms, restaurants, hotel lounges and tour buses.

Polis’s predecessor, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, last year vetoed a previous version of the legislation.

We had urged Gov. Polis to veto this year’s bill, which we believe could further normalize marijuana use for youth and increase drugged driving, jeopardizing the safety of anyone on the road.

The new law allows, but does not require, Colorado municipalities and counties to allow certain kinds of public use. Therefore, the focus now turns to local governments. If you don’t want this kind of public marijuana use in your community, you’ll want to speak up if you hear your local officials are considering it.

We’ll be monitoring the local landscape, as well, and engaging as the state is creating rules to implement the new law. Those rules could include protections like limits on what kinds of products can be used in these locations. For example, long-lasting edibles present a particular concern when it comes to drugged driving and have requirements that the businesses be a reasonable distance from schools and other places where kids congregate.

Colorado dad honors his late son

Kent Osborn, a Colorado dad, published a moving tribute to his late son, Tom, in the Colorado Springs Gazette and the Washington Examiner. In his column, Kent, who believes marijuana was responsible for his son’s death, offers specific suggestions for how to limit its harm to kids. He suggests limits on levels of THC, marijuana’s main psychoactive chemical, to reflect growing evidence of an association with mental health conditions.

He also endorses clear limits on public use and he proposes expansion of educational programs for youth and parents, including a focus on the risks of new, stronger marijuana products.

We encourage you to read Kent’s full column and all his recommendations.

-Smart Colorado

Colorado girl becomes first to climb El Capitan!

A 10-year-old Colorado girl scaled Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan and may have become the youngest person to climb one of the most celebrated and challenging peaks in the world.

Selah Schneiter of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, completed the 3,000-foot climb of the vertical rock formation with the help of her father, Mike Schneiter, and family friend, Mark Regier.

On June 12, Saleh became the youngest person to make it on the treacherous “Nose route” on El Capitan— one of the most challenging and treacherous vertical rock formations in the California national park.

Roadtrip! Toy Story 4 Travels from Trash to Treasure

You might be familiar with the old Girl Scout song about making new friends. One is silver, one is gold. In the Toy Story universe, new friends are usually fluffy or plastic. The latest installment, Toy Story 4, introduces a new friend who is literally trash.

His name is Forky (Tony Hale). Based on the trailers, I was skeptical about Forky. He’s a googly-eyed spork with pipe cleaner arms and popsicle stick feet, held together with clay. But because new-kindergartner Bonnie wrote her name on the bottom of his wooden feet, he is a toy. He doesn’t understand that he is a toy, much like Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) in the first groundbreaking film. However, it isn’t a retread of the first story. The toys have grown in their understanding of friendship and loyalty, especially Woody (Tom Hanks). Where Woody was jealous and petty for much of the first film, he is overly loyal in Toy Story 4. That leads to another adventure. To meet Forky is to fall in love with Forky. The character is animated with loads of humor. Woody’s exasperation at having to convince Forky he is a toy is genuinely laugh out loud funny and very fresh.

Toy Story 4 takes a lot of risks with old and new characters. Bo Peep (Annie Potts), who got minimal screen time in the earlier films, returns as a “lost” toy who has created a band of underground renegade toys on a mission to see the world, play with some kids, and save other toys from lonely lives. She is brave, savvy, and resourceful. Bo has a little helper, a pocket toy named Giggle McDimples (Ally Maki). Don’t let her teeny tiny cuteness fool you.

Woody enlists their skillful help in his mission to save Forky from a gang of creepy antique store toys lead by a 1950s-era doll, Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks). She has a genuinely twisted plan, born out of hurt much like Lotso. Is she redeemable and worthy of love in the end? Toy Story 4 isn’t afraid of exploring deeper questions of sacrifice and loneliness. Yet, humor and irreverence save the day, keeping it from becoming too creepy and mired in regrets. This is the funniest Toy Story film of the bunch, and it is largely thanks to the newer characters.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Toy Story film without Buzz lending a hand in the mission. This time, he finds himself reluctantly teaming up with Bunny (Jordan Peele) and Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key), two carnival prize toys who are a bit tired of their gig waiting to be won in an impossible-to-win carnival game. They are a comic duo who literally go hand-in-hand. Another great new addition to the toy box is the very Canadian stunt bike riding action figure, Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves). He loves to pose and he has a great, but short, backstory.

Bonnie and her parents have their own brief, but silly-funny adventure in an RV thanks to the shenanigans of the rest of the Toy Story toys, including old friends from the previous three films, like Rex, Mr. Potato Head, Jessie, and Dolly. They play smaller roles, a testament to the natural passing of time and changing outlooks.

Ultimately, Toy Story 4 is about finding a new purpose and being willing to change. While Toy Story 3 saw Woody and friends learn to live with and love another child after Andy grows up, Toy Story 4 confronts another of life’s forks in the road.

All of it is kicked off by a toy, fashioned from trash, named Forky.

(Make sure you stay through the credits. There are a few nice, funny surprises.)

Attention Toy Story Fans! The Toy Story 4 Road Trip will be hitting Denver on June 26th. Go see a Toy Story-themed RV, packed with goodies, prizes, carnival games, and special guests. It’s traveling to 20 cities around the country.

Take your Toy Story fans to Civic Center Eats, at Civic Center Park in downtown Denver between 11am and 2pm to get in on the fun, win some prizes, and make special memories celebrating almost 25 years of adventures with Woody, Buzz, and friends.

Disney Pixar’s Toy Story 4 officially opens on June 21, 2019. It is rated G. Run time is 1 hour 40 minutes.