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Summer has officially arrived, and the weekend will bring many opportunities for families to get outdoors, get an early start on celebrating the Fourth, or take in a kid-friendly play.

Children ages 5 – 14 are invited to participate in the world’s largest swimming lesson starting at 8 a.m. Friday at four Greenville County Rec facilities. Register online to receive a free swimming lesson 8 a.m. – 8:45 a.m. or 2:15 – 3 p.m. at Westside Aquatic Complex; 9:15 – 10 a.m. at Otter Creek Waterpark; 10:45 – 11:30 a.m. at 7th Inning Splash Waterpark; and 5:30 –6:15 p.m. at Discovery Island Waterpark. Register at GreenvilleRec.com. The event is meant to save lives by teaching children water safety.

If your children love all things Star Wars, head to Fluor Field for the 7:05 p.m. Friday game between the Greenville Drive and Lakewood BlueClaws during Star Wars Night. The night’s game will include Star Wars-themed music, games, skits and trivia and end with a fireworks show set to Star Wars music. Tickets start at $8 and can be purchased at the ticket office or online at www.GreenvilleDrive.com.

Get an early start on Fourth of July celebrations with the city of Greer’s annual Freedom Blast Festival 6 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Saturday in Greer City Park. The event features one of the largest fireworks shows in the state along with live entertainment, food vendors, children’s activities and military vehicles on display. The Greer Idol competition kicks things off at 6 p.m. The Military Tribute and Preston Johnson Veterans Walk will begin at 8:35 p.m. and a fireworks show, featuring patriotic music, will begin at 10:10 p.m. For more details, visit http://www.cityofgreer.org.

An Upstate exotic animal sanctuary will open to the public 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday during its Helping Hands for Safe Haven event. Safe Haven & Educational Adventures Inc. invites anyone that would like to see and support the animals to come to this open house. The sanctuary will be open with free admission, but wristbands will be sold for $5 to anyone interested in touching the animals on display. The special event will include live animal encounters with many of the wildlife housed at the center, including birds, monkeys and tortoises, as well as games, auctions, prizes, food and training demonstrations. Safe Haven is located near Dacusville. Take Farrs Bridge Road into Easley and turn onto Thomas Mill Road beside the Spinx Station. Look for signs from there. For exact street address, call 864-246-4425 or email info@RescueExotics.org. For more information, visit www.RescueExotics.org.

The Lutheran Church of Our Savior, 2600 Wade Hampton Blvd., Greenville, is holding a Summer Carnival 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday to raise funds for its after school program. The event will include bounce houses, Zoomball, field games and more. The entry fee is $1 with wristbands granting access to all activities $5. Indoor activities include crafts, face painting and international foods for an additional expense. Indoor activity tickets are $1 each; the number of indoor activity tickets required will vary by activity.

Have you been to Paris Mountain State Park lately? Summer activities at the park include free swimming and $3 boat rentals from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesdays – Saturdays and 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sundays. Paris Mountain State Park will also host programs on solar power and on lessons from nature Saturday. Events will kick off at 10 a.m. with “Benefits of Solar Power,” during which Preston Schultz, a solar energy project developer based in Greenville, will share his insights on how solar power works, how it benefits the global and local environment, and how solar/renewables fit into an overall energy generation mix. Then, participants will be shown how the park utilizes solar power at the amphitheater. This two-hour program is free and doesn’t require registration. It will be followed at 1 p.m. by “Lessons from Nature,” a walk on the Turtle Trail led by Interpretive Ranger Cathy Taylor. The hour-and-a-half walk will cover one and a half miles. Admission to the park is waived, but a $7 program fee and registration is required. To register, email ctaylor@scprt.com, or call the park office at 864-244-5565.

“Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical,” presented by South Carolina Children’s Theatre, continues its run this weekend at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 and 5:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the Peace Center Gunter Theatre. Based on the book by Mo Willems, the show is appropriate for all ages and follows toddler Trixie, her father and Knuffle Bunny as they take a trip to the laundromat. Most performances are $27 for adults and $18 for children 18 and younger. For more details, visit http://www.scchildrenstheatre.org. For tickets, visit http://peacecenter.org.

It's the last weekend to see a beloved Disney character when she drops into Greenville Little Theater. “Mary Poppins” continues its run on the stage with performances at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $35 with discounts available for seniors, children and groups of 10 or more. Visit www.greenvillelittletheatre.org for more information.

For more resources and events, visit www.UpstateParent.com.

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