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Children's Day Art Park continues through July 25

Dale Roe

It was hot enough to melt the paint off your face.

So what drew hundreds of kids and their parents to a downtown stone pavilion on June 27, just one day after a reading of 109 degrees broke the city's all-time high-temperature record for June?

Bubbles, music, lemonade, clowns, storytellers, clay and coloring, that's what. Oh, and face painting.

Children's Day Art Park boasts all of these activities and more. The Austin Symphony Orchestra's annual event takes over Symphony Square, 11th and Red River Streets, on Wednesdays each June and July (except for holidays) between 9:30 and 11:30 a.m.

Moms and some dads push strollers and guide tiny hands clutching balloons between a 350-seat amphitheater at one end of the complex to a large art tent at the other. The featured entertainers might be dancers (Ballet Folklorico is a favorite) or musicians.

Six-year-old Xander Murray and his mother came from San Antonio on June 27 to listen to Joe McDermott, whose band had the crowd of toddlers and older kids dancing and singing along to its goofy tunes. Ashley Beckham sat on a stone step near the back of the venue, a wide-brimmed hat protecting her 21-month-old son, William, who, she said, refused to wear his own. Beckham, passing the experience down to a new generation, has enjoyed the event since her own childhood.

In the art tent, some kids played with clay, drew pictures with crayons or created their own sculptures with paper, glue and scissors while live music from the Austin Symphony Woodwind Quartet — popular pieces from children's movies — weaved its way past the children's ears on occasional, welcome breezes.

Face painting was the most popular event in the tent. Surprisingly patient kids waited to be transformed by clowns into lions and other creatures. The lines were long, but the Symphony had several stations set up to accommodate them. Down a hill, other children sat on blankets and listened to storyteller Carl Anderson (a dead ringer for Santa Claus) weave tales.

The event is affordable: Admission is 50 cents per child and accompanying adults get in free. Lemonade is available for a dime per cup. Upcoming performances include Jon Emory's Teddy Bear Picnic on Wednesday (the troubadour invites kids to bring their teddy bears to the show) and Lucas Miller on July 18. The Biscuit Brothers close out this year's run on July 25.

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Contact Dale Roe at 912-5923; Twitter: @djroe