Family friendly fun at Loft Kids Fest

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Brandi Walker/Arizona Summer Wildcat


Big Jim the gold panner teaches two young girls how to pan for gold at Trail Dust Town in Tucson on Friday, July 10. The Loft projected "The Muppet Movie" at 7:45 p.m. for children and their families.

The excited chattering of young voices fills the air as families pile into the Loft Cinema for a Saturday morning adventure into the world of the Muppets and the chance to sing along. The Loft Cinema, a local Tucson hot spot and kid zone, offers a wide variety of budget-friendly entertainment opportunities.

The Loft is a nonprofit, independent movie theater that operates thanks to member support and has served the Tucson community since 1972. The premier Tucson indie-theater offers many events and film festivals, such as the Loft Jr., a free screening of a movie that happens the second Saturday of every month and exhibits new and classic films from around the globe.

Family-friendly movies start at 10 a.m., preceded by arts and crafts at 9:15 a.m. Popcorn is even provided for some theater-style snacking while the children create. Last Saturday, children made their own Muppets to take home after the movie.

The 500-seat theatre was filled with noise and the organized chaos that only rambunctious youngsters could create. Clad in a red monster shirt that Muppet fans recognized while picking up complementary glow sticks, program director Jeff Yanc noted the general assumption that everyone is able to afford to go see a movie, and how untrue that assumption is—especially regarding parents.

According to Yanc, The Loft hopes to provide family friendly entertainment to all economic demographics and to bring all kinds of films to the various families of Tucson.

The Loft’s Kids Fest starts July 18 and runs until July 26. The ninth annual, nine-day event aims to revive the spirit of movie going and will feature a free, family oriented movie each day, with activities and prizes for the younger attendees.

This year, the event will feature Harry Potter-themed activities, including an actual quidditch field for children to stretch their legs. The event will also host musical performances by The Nap Skippers and One Man Train.

One such supporter, Trail Dust Town, has been a partner of The Loft for the past three years and puts an emphasis on family activities. Other such community partners include Whole Foods, the Department of Transportation, Children’s Museum Tucson and El Grupo Youth Cycling, among others.

“We take pride in the awareness of the good things in Tucson for families to do,” said David Ragland, director of events and public relations for Trail Dust Town.

Trail Dust Town has been locally owned and operated for over 50 years, providing a trip into the past, right in the middle of Tucson.

The Old West park reached out to to form the partnership because the owners had always admired The Loft and been fans of the cinema’s work, Ragland noted. The Loft highlights pop-culture issues that could be swept under the rug, but instead were brought to Tucson.

To Yanc, exposing kids to these kinds of movies, like foreign films and documentaries, is a positive and gratifying part of working at The Loft.

“It’s bringing something magical and cool to these kids,” he said. “There’s a whole universe of films out there.”


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