In case you hadn't heard, Columbus is celebrating its bicentennial in 2012. To wish Columbus a happy birthday, Parent has drummed up 200 reasons why this fair city is a great place to raise a family.
Our countdown takes a turn for August: 141. Cup o'Joe/Stauf's: Before there was any other coffee chain in town (giving parents their daily dose of caffeine courage), there was micro-brewed Stauf's a.k.a. Cup o'Joe. 142. Corn on the Cob: We like ours roasted on the grill in the husk with a few basil leaves slipped in there. And you? 143. The Shazzbots: Quality kids' music by outstanding local musicians. Grown-ups need not suppress the urge to boogie along! 144. Dublin Irish Festival: Ireland without the airfare! 145. Ohio State Fair: You'll go for the life-sized butter sculptures. You'll stay for the deep-fried Twinkies. 146. Gateway Film Center: We salute their family-friendly programming, like the HOOT film series that benefits The Open Shelter and this summer's book-to-film series (free admission with a library card). 147. After-School All-Stars: A great program that helps keep kids in school and in shape. 148. First Fridays: Many communities now host these events and they're packed with plenty of activities and food for all ages. 149. Short North Gallery Hop: Probably the first First Friday event around here - it's the perfect date night for the grown-ups! (Hey, raising a family means taking care of the parents, too!) 150. Pelotonia: An awesome annual group ride for a great cause, fighting cancer. 151. Hoover Reservoir: Just check out this issue's Go-To Guide if you haven't figured out how to make the most of this oasis. 152. Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival: You gotta love a town that takes its tomatoes seriously (and you can read all about them in this month's Neighborhood Spotlight). 153. Festival Latino: So much food, music and cultural wow in one place (Aug. 11 and 12 in Genoa Park on the Downtown riverfront). 154. Canal Winchester Blues and Ribfest: Because you can never get enough cool music and hot food! 155. Antrim Lake: You can't call yourself a Central Ohioan without riding a bike, jogging or casting a line here at least once in your life. 156. Central Ohio Olympians: We're cheering loud and long for our London Games' Olympians like weightlifter Holley Mangold, wrestler Tervel Dlagnev and divers Katie Bell and Abby Johnston. 157. Local Foods Week: Now in its fourth year, this week features lots of family-friendly (and tasty) events that celebrate our locally grown farmers and food. 158. The Wexners: It's easy to hate on folks with money. It's hard to hate on them when they use it to better everyone's lives. 159. Jorgensen Farms: Their annual "Girasole" (a.k.a. Sunflower) dinner in the fields of this Westerville farm is another great date night for the grown-ups! And the farm is great to visit with the kids for other events. 160.Back-to-School Time: Just remember - in most other parts of the country, the kids don't go back until after Labor Day. 'Nuff said. IMMUNIZATION UPDATE They're the six words that school-aged kids may dread hearing most: "You need to get a shot." And it's right about this time of the year - back-to-school time - when kids are most apt to hear them because the Ohio Department of Health both requires and recommends a variety of immunizations for children before they can enroll in school (there are exemptions and if you visit the ODH's website (odh.ohio.gov) you'll find what the law allows). There are five basic vaccines required for school enrollment: those that immunize against diphtheria, tetanus and/or pertussis; the one for polio; another that immunizes against measles, mumps and rubella; one for hepatitis B; and another for varicella (a.k.a. chickenpox). Depending on a child's age, one or multiple doses may need to be administered in each category before the end of their high-school years. Parents should contact their children's doctor or local health department to schedule an appointment for immunization, said Judy Harmon, Ohio spokesperson for immunizations for the National Association of School Nurses. "If a child does not meet the guidelines…they could be temporarily excluded from school," she said. "The group that's going to get caught off guard is the seventh grade. Everyone knows kindergarteners need shots before going to school." The Ohio Department of Health added three new immunization requirements for the 2010-2011 school year. Children entering the seventh grade must receive a tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) or tetanus and diphtheria (Td) booster. Children starting kindergarten need a second dose of the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine and must receive their final dose of polio vaccine after their fourth birthday but before the start of school. There have been no subsequent changes in requirements, said Tessie Pollock, an ODH spokeswoman. As for optional vaccines, such as those for seasonal flu, shortages (last experienced in 2009 with the run on H1N1 "swine flu" vaccines) are not anticipated for the upcoming winter. Though some families do choose to opt out of having their children vaccinated - for reasons varying from medical to religious - Pollock said the ODH continues to strongly encourage parents to opt in. "It's not just about protecting that child," Pollock said. "It's about protecting your entire family, like if you have an infant in the home under six months of age." Babies that young, Pollock explained, often don't have any defenses against some of these diseases so the parents' and siblings' immune systems play a critical role in protecting a baby's health. And if parents have any concerns or questions about vaccines, they can contact the ODH Immunization Program at 800-282-0546 or 614-466-4643. -Jane Hawes and Melissa Kossler Dutton