Winter of the Dinosaurs
FESTIVAL IS HOLIDAY FUN FOR A GOOD CAUSE
IIn elementary school, my classmates and I performed “The Twelve Days of Christmas” before a packed audience of parents, siblings and friends. I was part of the fifth day, so when my turn came I chimed in: “FIVE GOLDEN RINGS!”
With the holidays quickly approaching, the folks at The Dinosaur Place, an interactive facility in Montville, are putting a spin on this holiday classic, while at the same time hosting an event that raises money for a local school.
Three years ago, The Dinosaur Place hosted “Decked Out Dinos,” a festival that ran along a mile of trails behind the Route 85 building. Roughly 25 of the archaic creatures were dressed up in their holiday best for nearly a month, and the proceeds from entrance fees were donated to the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
Corinna Ferguson, The Dinosaur Place’s director of marketing, says “people got a kick out of it” but the event could have been more successful if Mother Nature had cooperated.
“The weather was horrific. We had to shut down half the days that we had planned being open,” says Ferguson, of the event scheduled on weekends between Thanksgiving and NewYear’s. “So we decided, ‘What can we do to hold the event and not deal with the weather?’ We decided to bring it indoors.”
This year, organizers are putting their unique spin on “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Instead of “Nine Ladies Dancing” and “Four Turtle Doves,” each day is somehow linked to the dinosaur age.
“We have ‘A longneck eating a palm tree’ for the first day,” explains Ferguson, “and ‘Three raptors rapping.’”
The Dinosaur Place has also renewed its relationship withWaterford Country School, a private agency that provides programs and services to children and families in the region.
Last year, organizers collected toys for Big Brothers/Big Sisters but were unable to distribute them because no one from the organization could pick them up. In addition, The Dinosaur Place didn’t have enough staff to make a delivery. So facility volunteers contactedWaterford Country School and the school gladly accepted the donation.
“They have been so nice to us,” says David Moorehead, the school’s executive director. “It’s such an incredible place. There’s nowhere else like it, and we are fortunate to have such a resource here in southeastern Connecticut.”
With the amount of cutbacks in funding that local agencies are experiencing at the hands of the state, there is always a need at the school that can be addressed with the help of donations, Moorehead says. The school has an ongoing fundraiser to support construction of the Otto Graham Gymnasium, an activity center that organizers are hoping to break ground on in the spring. The school also seeks funding to provide general activities for the 150 children it supports.
“The center,” explains Moorehead, “will provide activities and recreation, and be the seat for education.”
For less than five dollars, visitors can tour the exhibits at The Dinosaur Place, create crafts, have a picture taken with Santa Claus and enjoy a treat. Ferguson says a tour of the exhibits can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.
“Really young kids won’t get the humor, but it’s something fun that adults can enjoy too,” she says. “We hope that a lot of people come so that we can give them a really big check.”
Students and staff atWaterford Country School frequent The Dinosaur Place and Nature’s Art, which provides exhibits, games and activities for children ages 3 and up.
“They are very caring people, who are imaginative and creative,” he says.
CREATIVITY ABOUNDS AT THE DINOSAUR PLACE AS THE PREHISTORIC CREATURES AMUSE ADULTS AND KIDS.