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 heats up with the summer: 121. Red, White and Boom: You know they're going to blow out all the stops for the city's Bicentennial Boom! 122. Dive-In Movie at Zoombezi Bay: Float around, sip a beverage and watch a movie? Doesn't get much better than that. 123. County Fairs: 'Tis the season! 124. Summer Thunderstorms: The cat and dog might disagree, but there's nothing like watching the storms pop up at 5 p.m. and cool things off. 125. Jazz & Ribs Festival: Food, family-friendly activities and free music! 126. The Wex Drive In: Kick back, relax and watch a flick on the Wexner Center Plaza. Titles appeal more to older kids (and the grown-up kids have a cash bar at their disposal). 127. Fourth of July parades: and the communities that still have the nerve to toss candy! 128. Movies on the Mile: Yeah, we've got a theme of great outdoor movie series this month. This one takes place on the Scioto Mile, Columbus's newest iconic landmark. 129. The Doo-Dah Parade: Probably the best introduction to LOL (and sometimes lewd) satire and political discourse you could ever hope to give your kids. 130. Fryer Flicks on the Hill: Grove City's bid for the free outdoor movie market in its spacy cool Fryer Park. 131. Granville's Fourth of July: fireworks, 5-mile race, talent competition, street fair and more from July 4-7! 132. The Lancaster Festival: world-class arts and entertainment in a small city setting 133. Cinema Under the Stars: rotates through Gahanna's different parks. This month, it's the "Adventures of Tintin" in Hannah Park on July 7. 134. Movie in the Park: in Upper Arlington: You can join Columbus Parent in Sunny95 Park on July 6 for "Kung Fu Panda 2" (and free food and swag). 135. Dive-In Movies: at Gahanna's Hunters Ridge Pool. This month, it's "Twilight" (imagine the sound effects possible) on July 13. 136. Outdoor Classic Movie Series: at Everal Barn and Homestead in Westerville. "Wizard of Oz" on July 20! 137. Bicentennial Pavilion at the Columbus Commons: It's already become a great performance space, especially now that Actors' Theatre and Shadowbox Live are popping in with shows! 138. Life-sized Chess Sets: We've got two great ones in Downtown Columbus. There's the one at Columbus Commons and the "Alice in Wonderland" set just returned to the Columbus Museum of Art! 139. Ashville's Fourth of July: is actually a five-day affair with their famous fish fry every day (from June 30-July 4) 140. Classic Loony Toon and other cartoon movies at the Ohio Theatre: They're part of the CAPA Summer Movie Series on select Saturday mornings. BEAT THE SUMMER BRAIN DRAIN Here are five great ways to prepare children for kindergarten because talking, singing, reading, writing and playing are all simple and fun things to do: *Talk about sounds, smells, sights and tastes you experience. Knowing lots of words before starting school is closely tied to reading comprehension. *Singing teaches children rhymes and patterns. Clap out syllables in songs and have your child complete the rhymes. *Point to words in books when you read to your child. This helps kids become successful readers. *Encourage children to color and scribble. Let them cut paper with safety scissors and make shapes using strips of tape to build muscle control to hold pencils properly. *Play with boxes, empty containers and other non-toys. This helps children learn that objects can stand for something else (box becomes a ship). This is an important step toward understanding letters stand for sounds to make up words. And remember - you are your child's first teacher. - Dragana Sass, Ready to Read Program Leader, Columbus Metropolitan Library AND THE WINNER IS… Tazmin Appiah! This 9-year-old from Powell was nominated by her mom, Tracy, and has won our Ultimate Birthday Party contest package. The prizes include $600 in goodies from EACH of these fine businesses: Pete DeLois' Recreations Outlet, Bob Evans and Velvet Ice Cream. Congrats, Tazmin, and have a great birthday party! DRAW AND ENTER TO WIN Every year, the TWIG organization that serves Nationwide Children's Hospital selects two pieces of children's artwork and creates beautiful holiday cards, which are sold to raise money for this great institution. Through July 31, any child 16 and younger can enter an original holiday-themed drawing or painting by mailing it to: Nationwide Children's Hospital Foundation, Attn: TWIG Holiday Card Contest, 700 Children's Drive, Columbus, Ohio, 43205. Along with the artwork, include a statement with: name of artist, age of artist, name of parent/guardian, mailing address, phone number, email address, and please answer the question "Has the artist been a patient of Nationwide Children's Hospital?" and, if so, feel free to briefly share your family's story (but you don't have to, and it's not necessary for the artist to have been a patient in order to enter). Four winning entries will be selected and notified by Sept. 15, and all non-winning entries can be picked up at the hospital after that date. The winning entries will be reproduced and available for sale beginning Oct. 1 at All proceeds benefit the hospital and especially those areas of greatest need.