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Children can let their imaginations run rampant

Whether your child wants to be a pirate, a princess or a pterodactyl, there's a place for them at this year's Imagination Celebration.

Now in its 26th year, the Imagination Celebration is dedicated to bringing the visual and performing arts to Orange County's children, through a seemingly endless variety of free or affordable exhibitions and performances.

Would-be swashbucklers are invited to the Laguna Playhouse's 90th anniversary family event, a Pirate Adventure, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The day includes storytelling, stage combat demonstrations, face painting, pirate hat making, a treasure hunt, lunch and a matinee performance of the playhouse Youth Theatre's "Treasure Island."

Tickets are $25 per person for the event or $18 to $20 for seats at the play's other performances, which will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, or 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday.

This year's Imagination Celebration offerings also include opportunities to paint with professional artists, enjoy an adaptation of a Jane Austen classic and goggle at synchronized swimmers.

The celebration is perhaps best known for the thousands of children's artworks put on view for the month at places like local libraries, South Coast Plaza and Main Place Mall in Santa Ana.

Organizers say the annual event has sparked the creativity of an entire generation of local children at a time when arts funding is at the mercy of severe budget cuts, both in and out of schools.

The 2011 theme is "Let Your Imagination Soar." Participating venues include libraries, arts organizations, cities and educational institutions.

Read on for this year's events.



Night of the Arts

Northwood High School Visual and Performing Arts

4515 Portola Parkway, Irvine

When: 5 to 7 p.m.

Cost: Free

Information: (949) 887-7793


Synch to the Beat!

Meraquas of Irvine synchronized swimmers

4601 Walnut Ave, Irvine

When: 6 to 8 p.m.

Cost: Free

Information: (949) 459-8142



Art and Movement: Dance lessons and communal art

Orange County Great Park

Sand Canyon Ave. and Marine Way, Irvine

When: 1 to 4 p.m.

Cost: Free

Appropriate for ages 6 and older

Information: (949) 724-6579

Art Takes Flight: Art projects, games and refreshments

Laguna Art Museum

307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach

When: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Cost: Free

Information: (949) 494-8971, ext. 207

Princess and Superhero Funday

Festival Ballet Theatre

710 Roosevelt, Irvine

When: 1 to 3 p.m.

Cost: Free

Information: (714) 962-5440


Through Sunday

"Treasure Island"

Laguna Playhouse Youth Theatre

605 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach

Party and performance 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; performances 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday

Cost: $18 child, $20 adult

Appropriate for those who watch G or PG movies

Information: (949) 497-2787


May 7

Imagination Celebration Poster Competition Exhibit, reception

Showcase Gallery

Orange County Fine Arts

3851 S. Bear St., Suite 315, Costa Mesa

When: 5 to 7 p.m.

Cost: Free

Information: (714) 540-6430

May Faire

Waldorf School of Orange County

2350 Canyon Drive, Costa Mesa

When: 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Cost: Adults $3; children under 2 free

Information: (949) 574-7775

Young Masters Art Show

Irvine City Hall Plaza

1 Civic Center Plaza, Irvine

When: 1 to 4 p.m.

Cost: Free

Information: (949) 854-1845


May 8

Target Free Second Sundays

Orange County Museum of Art

850 San Clemente Drive, Newport Beach

When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cost: Free

Information: (949) 759-1122


May 9

Let Your Imagination Soar Thru the City

Pretend City Children's Museum

29 Hubble, Irvine

When: 3:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Cost: Free with a piece of hand-made artwork

Information: (949) 428-3900 ext. 224


May 11 to May 25

1,000 Pieces of Art

South Coast Plaza, Crate and Barrel Wing

3333 Bear Street, Costa Mesa

Student Reception: 10 a.m. to noon May 14

Cost: Free

Information: (714) 663-6363


May 14

Create and Paint with the Pros

Orange County Fine Arts

3851 S. Bear St., Suite B-15, Costa Mesa

When: 1 to 4 p.m.

Cost: Free

Information: (949) 951-5971


May 14 and May 21

The Plein Air Painting Scavenger Hunt

The Crystal Cove Alliance

45 Crystal Cove, Newport Coast

When: 10 a.m. to noon

Cost: free

Information: (949) 376-6200


May 15

Stories Behind the Music

The Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble

Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall

615 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa

When: 6 p.m.

Cost: $9 per person

Information: (714) 876-2343


Through May 21

K-12 Three Dimensional Student Art Exhibit

Irvine Fine Arts Center

14321 Yale Ave., Irvine

Cost: Free

Information: (949) 724-6889


May 23

Eastern European Journey

The Pacific Symphony Youth Wind Ensemble

Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall

615 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa

When: 8 p.m.

Cost: $9 per person

Information: (714) 876-2343


May 28 and May 29

"Mansfield Park"

South Coast Repertory Teen Players

Nicholas Studio

655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa

When: 4 p.m. May 28 and 1:30 and 5 p.m. May 29

Cost: $9 per person

Appropriate for ages 10 and older

Information: (714) 708-5565


Through May 29

Exhibits of Children's Art

All Orange County PubliSc Library branches

Cost: Free

If You Go

What: Imagination Celebration 2011

When: Through May 29

Where: Countywide

Cost: Free and up

Information: sparkoc.com

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