The official start of summer may still be more than a month away but Mesquite’s Parks and Recreation Department is getting a jumpstart this week with the first of three family-friendly Movies in the Park events planned for May.

The outdoor fun begins on Friday with a big-screen showing of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” at Paschall Park, located at 1001 New Market Road. Check-in starts at 7:30 p.m. and the featured movie of the week starts at dusk. Event admission and parking is free.

Elizabeth Harrell, Mesquite’s PARD director, said she was excited to get things started again after a yearlong hiatus for most large gatherings because of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

“We’re thrilled to start doing in-person events again,” Harrell said. “What better way to spend an evening with the family than to spread out a blanket and watch an outdoor movie.”

Harrell said designated areas will be marked off for each family to ensure social distancing. Families are encouraged to bring their own blankets and lawn chairs and they’re welcome to bring picnic dinners and snacks. Concessions and shaved ice will also be available for purchase.

Up next on the Movies in the Park schedule are “Trolls World Tour” on May 14 and “The Karate Kid” (original 1984 version) on May 21. Movies in the Park is sponsored in part by Celebration Station, Coca-Cola, Dallas Regional Medical Center and Park’s Martial Arts.

But if an outdoor movie isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of other activities and events happening in Mesquite in the month of May.

On Saturday, the Mesquite Symphony Orchestra presents “Spring Fantasia” inside the Mesquite Arts Center located at 152 N. Galloway Ave. starting at 7 p.m. Limited tickets for 271 reserved seats can be purchased online or the concert can be seen in live streaming or recorded format online.

On May 18, Historic Mesquite Inc. will host an open house from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for tours of the recently completed restoration of the Webb-Crownover Cabin at Opal Lawrence Historical Park located at 711 E. Kearney St. Admission is free and light refreshments will be available.

Originally located in the community of Long Creek (present-day Sunnyvale), the circa-1845 cabin is considered to be one of the oldest buildings in eastern Dallas County. In 1997, Jeanette Franklin and her family donated the cabin to the City of Mesquite for reconstruction with funding provided by the Mesquite Rotary Club. Informal tours of the Lawrence home and outbuildings will also be available. RSVP to historicmesquite@cityofmesquite.com or call 972-216-6468 for more information.

HMI also offers free admission to the Opal Lawrence Historical Park every fourth Saturday of the month, including family storytime and old-fashioned games.

If fast cars and flying dirt are more your taste, racing for the 2021 season at Devil’s Bowl Speedway continues every Saturday at the track located at 111 Lawson Road.

Hailed as the Southwest's most famous dirt track, Devil's Bowl Speedway is a premier venue for racing entertainment. The high-banked half-mile track is a unique D shape to give 10,000 seats in the grandstands an unobstructed view of the entire track.

Get there early if you want to tailgate in the parking lot and visitors can also get an up-close experience by purchasing a pit pass allowing them to go down to the pit for opportunities to talk to drivers, get in the cars for pictures and watch the race from the center of the track. The season runs through mid-October on Saturday nights at 7 p.m. The gates open at 6 p.m. and general admission tickets are $12.

Fans of the sweet science should consider marking their calendars for May 21 when The Best Fighters of DFW Pride step into the ring at Mesquite Arena. The event will showcase eight professional fights featuring Kevin Soto, Ben Gurment, Rafa "Listo" Gaytan and more.

Marco Antonio Barrera will perform live music after the show. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the first bout will start at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $25 and are available through Ticketmaster.

May closes out with a nostalgic touch of classic country music as Mesquite Arena welcomes the legendary Dwight Yoakam to the stage. The concert starts at 9 p.m. and tickets can be purchased starting at $49 through Ticketmaster.

To stay on top of special events and other community activities in Mesquite, make sure you visit Make It Mesquite's Local Events calendar that's updated regularly.

Kent Miller is a Mesquite native with three decades of newspaper experience. His passion for community journalism is reflected in his work on Make It Mesquite. He also produces editorial content for the City of Mesquite through Pegasus Media Dallas.