Father's day 2017

3 Ways to Make Any Day Father’s Day

My best Father’s Day memories include a few familiar trumpet notes, the lingering smell of soft pretzels under the glow of a heat lamp, and watching grown men slap their posteriors with rolled-up racing forms, willing their horses to win down the final stretch.

My dad played the ponies. And I bought my first Huffy bike on the backs of longshot thoroughbreds and $2 Show bets placed through my father. Pretty much every Father’s Day, we headed down the street to Finger Lakes Racetrack, a once downtrodden track now reborn as a “racino” with faster horses and rows upon rows of shiny slot machines. That track is where I learned math, how to respect and speak with my elders, and about the balance of vice and virtue. And even on days when he lost, I could tell my dad preferred our time together over the ceramic paper clip holder or novelty flamingo golf tees I once gave him.

Father’s Day is this Sunday, June 18. (That may be causing a slight twinge of anxiety for a few of you procrastinators.) Yes, there is still time to do something — maybe not time to drop a card in the mail that will get there in time or book a prime tee time at dad’s favorite golf course. But there is time to do something much more thoughtful: schedule some time with dad.

It’s nice to acknowledge dad on Father’s Day. (You should also laugh at his dad jokes and avoid stealing his favorite chair.) That said, the holiday itself is more of a save the date. It’s a reminder that says, “Hey maybe you’ve let life get in the way of one of your most important relationships. Now here is a gentle nudge to make that get-together happen...”


Here are some ideas for some easy but memorable Father’s Day get-togethers, no matter where you live. Remember, even if you get together six weeks or six months from now, you still officially remembered dad on his official day because you were smart enough to send a goHappy date poll on or before the official day. And don’t let your super on-top-of-it sibling tell you otherwise…

  1. Pops on hops: You may not have founded your own brewery and pizza pub with your dad like the father and son team behind Dad & Dudes Breweria in Denver’s suburbs, but it doesn’t mean you can’t throw a few back together. (And then plan on a napkin exactly how you’ll start your own brewery). Thanks to the craft brewing revolution, odds are there is a brewery near you, dad or somewhere in the middle. Heck, breweries have become family-friendly establishments, so bring the kids / grandkids and some coloring books. (It’s true; I even wrote an article about it.)
  2. Minor attractions: There may be no more nostalgic feeling that being at the ballpark with dad. Some good news for you: baseball is in season, and the nation’s minor league clubs have a free seat cushion, D-list celebrity cameo and other assorted dog and pony shows to accompany the on-field action. Maybe you’ll join the Montgomery Biscuits for an ‘80s night chock full of nostalgia or score some cheap seats for the Frisco RoughRiders to see dad’s old small screen crush: Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann “Gilligan’s Island.” (She’ll be there on July 21. For real.)
  3. Parks, playgrounds and campsites: What better way to bury the hatchet with dad than by soaking in the great outdoors. After all, if you’re only able to escape the grind with the kids in tow, then this is the ideal setting to have the kiddos burn off the sugar cereal buzz while you and pops catch up. Best of all, these are often free or very affordable, so there’s no arguing about who picks up the tab. (And if you hit up a national park and bring a fourth grader along; they’re 100% free.)

So what are you waiting for? Skip the trip to pick up the drug store card and instead send dad a goHappy date poll with a few dates you’re available. (Go here for the iPhone app; Android coming next in July!). Don’t worry, dad doesn’t even need to be that tech savvy; heck, he doesn’t even need to download anything.

Finally, if you still can’t decide on a date or activity, I have one for you: May 5, 2018 in Louisville Kentucky. That’s Kentucky Derby Day. And while Churchill Downs is no Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack, it will do just fine. Giddy up.