Discriminating parents agree: The Disney Channel's Bear in the Big Blue House is better than the average fare--at least where television programming for preschoolers is concerned. A Muppet-driven vehicle straight from the Jim Henson factory, Bear has all the right elements, from its snappy, original music to a cast of characters who are gentle without being gushy. With that in mind, it'll be a good time for all--parents and kids, that is--when the Bear road show makes a three-day stopover at Southwest Plaza, 8501 W. Bowles Ave., Littleton. Live performances take place at 1, 3 and 5 p.m. daily, today through Sunday at Foley's Court in the mall; for details call 303-973-5300.
Older kids, on the other hand, will want to trek to the Denver Museum of Natural History, 2001 Colorado Blvd., where a new collection of companion exhibits, Colossal Fossil Vacation, opens to the public today. The dino-drenched science adventure includes a Mammoth Monument, where visitors can touch mammoth teeth and other fossil specimens, a Diggin' Up Denver local paleontology program, and a hands-on Bone Zone Discovery Center, where kids can chisel away at a pretend dinosaur dig. The highlight, though, is Alaskan artist Ray Troll's fanciful Cruisin' the Fossil Freeway, an exhibit that blends real museum fossils with Troll's eye for scientific detail and wacky humor. The exhibits continue through July 5; call 303-322-7009 for information.
If you're looking for some mindless background music to busy up your head, read no further. But if you'd prefer some real music for thought, turn on your thinking cap for Fred Hess and his Boulder Creative Music Ensemble, a local troupe of musical experimenters with an excellent set of collective chops. Trumpeter Ron Miles, saxophonists Mark Harris and Glenn Nitta, bassist Kent McLagen and drummer Tim Sullivan join Hess tonight at 8 for a gig in the cozy auditorium at Wells Music, 685 S. Broadway, where they'll play works from Hess's newest CD. Admission is $5; call 303-777-1900.
Fundraisers are in season, but that's no reason to expect them to all be the same. So if it's wolves you choose to champion, get out your pitons: Sinapu, an organization supporting Colorado wolf-recovery efforts, hosts a Climb for the Wolves Climb-a-thon from 6 to 10 tonight on the rock walls of the Paradise Rock Gym, 6260 N. Washington St. Admission is $8, and beginners are welcome. For information call 303-447-8655. Good sports might also choose to strap on some snowshoes for a wintry tromp in the wilds during the Stomp It Out! Snowshoe Festival, a benefit event for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation that takes place today from 10 to 3 at Copper Mountain Resort. Sign up to compete in any of three events for various skill levels, and keep in mind that the early bird catches the shoes: Free showshoe rentals will be available for the first 500 registrants. Entry fees range from $13 to $25; call 303-936-6348.
Supporters of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues get their due tonight at the 1999 Human Rights Campaign Colorado Dinner. A true gala in every sense of the word, the evening features entertainment by comedian/satirist Al Franken and a keynote speech by U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA). Cocktails and a silent auction kick things off at 5:30 at the Adam's Mark Hotel, 1550 Court Pl., followed by the dinner and program at 8. For tickets, $150 a head, call 303-331-2786 or 1-800-494-TIXS; for information, log on to www.coloradohrc.org.
Still more comedy is on tap--this time, in support of Denver public television station KBDI-TV/Channel 12--when multi-talented comic Damon Wayans steps up to the mike tonight at the Auditorium Theatre, 14th and Curtis streets. The very funny star of numerous television and film endeavors, Wayans powers up his act at 8:30; admission is $25-$30. Call 303-830-TIXS.
If you've been to Park Meadows in the last few weeks, you've probably noticed the playhouses on display there. Designed, customized and built by local builders who've donated their services to benefit Denver Court Appointed Special Advocates (a program providing abused and neglected children with volunteer court advocates), twelve mini-mansions range from a "Mother Goose Shoe" to a child-sized art gallery conceived by Westword cartoonist Kenny Be. The whole event culminates tonight with a Casas for CASA Happy Endings Celebration, featuring a buffet dinner, live music by Hazel Miller and other local favorites, an auction and, finally, a raffle drawing for the playhouses themselves (tickets, $5 each or $25 for six, are available at Foley's in the mall). It all begins at 6:30 tonight at Park Meadows; for tickets, $75, call 303-899-3852, ext. 5.