The cracks of baseball bats, the slaps of softballs meeting mitts, and the advice of an experienced team of instructors resound within Thunder Stix Baseball & Softball Academy's cavernous 11,000-square-foot facility. Baseball and softball players alike hone their cuts inside eight pitching machines that can be adjusted from 40 miles per hour to 70 miles per hour, and brush up on their fielding technique inside four netted astroturf tunnels. Robert Banner—the academy's owner and the head softball coach at Alexis I. DuPont High School—and his instructors use the well-appointed digs to help players of all abilities develop their skills in every facet of the game, including batting, fielding, base running, and agility.
Atlantic Edge Dive Center's dive-masters might technically be classified as land mammals, but they spend enough time under water to earn the honorary title of amphibian. They spend days and nights teaching and leading dives, whether they're arming curious beginners with basic skills in one of their on-site swimming pools, or conducting open water certification tests off the coast. They go beyond simply certifying students for adventure: they provide rescue diving, dive master, and instructor training as well.
Their passion for the aquatic pastime draws them to all kinds of watery outposts. They lead excursions to the Florida keys to help rehabilitate the coral reefs surrounding the islands, and dive into the relatively calm waters of the tanks in the Baltimore National Aquarium, where they have a chance to see 53 species of fish feed in the secret underwater cafeteria.
Across five full days of action, kids young and semi-young will undergo a comprehensive camp curriculum chock-full of running, throwing, catching, blocking, teamworking, confidence building, high-fiving, and more. If desired, campers ages 11–14 with at least one year of tackle football experience may enroll in the accelerated-skills sections, which feature advanced lessons in the same non-contact environment. All campers are led by professional educators from the high-school and collegiate level, and each day's knowledge bowl soars even higher with visits from Eagles greats, ranging from Fred Barnett to the great Pete Retzlaff (Philadelphia Eagles players vary by camp location). By teaming up with experienced players and coaches, kids will be treated to comprehensive instruction that goes beyond purely mechanical skills.
Though Longwood Gardens owes its current incarnation to the tireless efforts of industrialist, philanthropist, and conservationist Pierre du Pont, the property’s history stretches back to precolonial days. The Peirce family purchased the land from William Penn himself in 1700, and by the end of the century the Quakers had already begun developing an arboretum on the premises. In the century that followed, the homestead was purchased by an ambitious 36-year-old du Pont in 1906. Throughout the next 30 years, du Pont built a legacy rife with extravagant European-style fountains, a picturesque 600-foot garden walk, and 40 indoor and outdoor gardens. Today, visitors experience a bit of du Pont’s passion for the tropical flora of the Americas during jaunts through the property’s 1,077 colorful acres, where they run into everything from flowering trees and delicate hybrids to carnivorous pitcher plants. In addition to cultivating lush flora, the garden’s stewards also encourage growing minds with an ever-changing roster of events, such as internationally acclaimed musical acts and immersive educational experiences.
St. Anthony's Italian Festival, a weeklong, Renaissance-style party, celebrates the rich cultural heritage of Italy. Each year, the streets that surround St. Anthony of Padua Parish teem with events ranging from concerts and wine competitions to church tours and a full midway of rides and games. Participants include local merchants such as DiSabatino Landscaping, which has created a garden that evokes the Italian countryside. Vending booths supply food prepared by volunteers and some of the area's Italian restaurants. All proceeds from the festival benefit the St. Anthony of Padua Grade School.
The Newark Film Festival hosts a wide collection of Oscar-nominated, independent, foreign, and limited-release films. Cinema darlings such as Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life share theater space with indie fare including the gospel music documentary Rejoice and Shout. The fest provides a valuable outlet for local filmmakers’ shorts and features, and hosts a 30-second commercial contest for members of Delaware Independent Filmmakers to out-advertise each other for cash prizes and World’s Greatest Grandpa mugs. This year, the Newark Film Festival introduces OUTflix, a fest-within-a-fest that exhibits LGBT films, ranging from Peru’s Undertow to A Marine Story’s gritty take on true events. Groupon holders can snag a quintet of friends for a single showing and post-film hide-and-seek game, or hoard the set for solo enjoyment of six different films.