Kids Almanac: Celebrate trees, Beltane, UFOs, autism support & New Paltz Regatta

Cover detail of Vincent Polise’s book, The Pine Bush Phenomenon.

The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.

– William Butler Yeats



Noted New Paltz environmental educator Ann Guenther suggests taking hand lenses or magnifying glasses on your next nature walk to help children engage in their surroundings. What looks ordinary to our eyes can suddenly become extraordinary with a closer look. Right now is such a special time to join our kids in exploring the trees, with their new leaves emerging and bits and pieces of buds and “helicopters” scattered on the ground.

Did you see that inspiring article about Abdul Kareem in India, who, over the course of 25 years, grew a forest out of barren land? It reminded me of the story The Man Who Planted Trees. The idea that one person can offer healing and transformation to a barren landscape thrills me. But how can we do this with our families on a smaller scale? Enter Arbor Day! According to the Arbor Day Foundation, National Arbor Day is “a time to celebrate the wonders of nature, and to plan for an even greener future by planting and caring for trees.” Do you feel like planting some trees? Here are some opportunities for you:



Forsyth Nature Center to distribute free saplings & host Keeping Kids Healthy Fair this Friday


As part of its daylong Arbor Day celebration from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, April 27, the Forsyth Nature Center (FNC) is distributing free saplings for you to plant. Additionally, in honor of the Week of the Young Child, the FNC has also agreed to host the Keeping Kids Healthy Fair from 1 to 4:30 p.m. This Fair, sponsored by Ulster County Healthy Start, will feature information about growing healthy children, including free developmental screenings and car-seat safety checks. Remember to bring some greens and carrots to share with the animal residents.

The Forsyth Nature Center is located at 157 Lucas Avenue in Kingston. For more information, call (845) 339-3053 or visit


Pot up Trees for Tributaries at DEC HQ in New Paltz this Friday & Saturday


Another tree-related event is the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)’s “Trees for Tribs” (tributaries). On April 27 and 28 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., volunteers will pot up thousands of bare-root seedlings. These plants then go to landowners to transplant along the edges of compromised tributaries. The vegetation prevents soil erosion and encourages new growth. Free pizza will be provided to volunteers at noon.

For more information about Trees for Tribs or to participate in this effort, contact Danielle Laberge at (845) 256-2253 or The DEC Region 3 headquarters is located at 21 South Putt Corners Road in New Paltz and online at


Williams Lake in Rosendale hosts Family Arbor Day Celebration this Saturday


On Saturday, April 28 at 10 a.m., the second annual Family Arbor Day Celebration takes place at Williams Lake. Hosted by the Williams Lake Project, this free event will feature activities for the whole family including a tree ID walk for kids, stories and songs, a tree-planting demo and dedication, free saplings and more. Carrie Wykoff, Mom and event planner, shared, “Last year the event was so much fun. The kids really learned about the different trees, as well as how to measure them and plant them. My daughter had a blast!” Participants are welcome to bring a picnic.

Williams Lake is located at 434 Williams Lake Road in Rosendale. For more information, contact Amanda Coppola at or visit


Revolutionary War reenactment this weekend at New Windsor Cantonment


In a way that uses all of our senses and makes history come alive, complete with muskets, fifes and drums, the Brigade of the American Revolution presents a weekend of Revolutionary War military fighting demonstrations at the New Windsor Cantonment. What I find especially interesting is the daily-life piece, where the soldiers set up tents, prepare cooking fires and demonstrate other aspects of 18th-century existence, along with women and children who traveled with the army as family members of the soldiers. New Windsor Cantonment staff will show blacksmithing and military medicine throughout the weekend.

The reenactment takes place on Saturday and Sunday, April 28 and 29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission and parking are free. New Windsor Cantonment is co-located with the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor at 374 Temple Hill Road in the Town of New Windsor. For more information, call (845) 561-1765, extension 22, or visit



This Saturday is Spring Plow Day at Saunderskill Farm in Accord


Part of my joy of living in the Hudson Valley is sharing the landscape with the variety of farms established here and their living history. Spring Plow Day at Saunderskill Farm gives us that opportunity to see some of that history by watching the true origins of “horsepower”: draft horses in action, these gentle giants who helped develop New York State. Fun fact: Saunderskill Farm is reportedly the second-oldest farm in the nation and has been continuously farmed since 1680. In addition to the horses, the Shoe String Band will be performing its wonderful old-time Appalachian music. There will also be vendors and crafters, skill and craft demonstrations and children’s activities.

Spring Plow Day takes place on Saturday, April 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Saunderskill Farm is located at 5100 Route 209 in Accord. For more information, call (845) 626-2676 or visit To learn more about the musicians, visit


Used clothing sale this Saturday at Jewish Community Center in Poughkeepsie benefits child abuse prevention


Are you ready for this? Quality, gently used clothing for $5 a bag! And there’s free babysitting! It’s the second annual Shop-to-Stop Child Abuse consignment sale, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to the Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse of Dutchess County. They have all sizes and styles of children’s clothing as well as maternity wear. They also offer toys, games and baby gear at deep-discount prices. This is true one-stop shopping, and it’s for such an important cause.

The sale takes place on Saturday, April 28 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center of Dutchess County. The Jewish Community Center is located at 110 South Grand Avenue in Poughkeepsie. For more information, call (845) 632-2967 or visit



Uncle Rock plays Bearsville this Saturday


Clear your calendar for some great family music that will give you and your kids a chance to rock out – with Uncle Rock, of course. And there will be face-painting! On Saturday, April 28 at 2 p.m., Uncle Rock (musician Robert Burke Warren) presents the “Uncle Rock Spring Fling Thing” at the Bearsville Theater, featuring Uncle Rock and the Playthings. Alm@nac music columnist John Burdick recently described some of Uncle Rock’s music this way: “It’s just friggin’ great, in sound and in sentiment.” Our family agrees! (The kids’ favorite is “Stop at a Mom ‘n’ Pop.”)

Tickets cost $8, and kids under 2 get in free. The Bearsville Theater is located at 291 Tinker Street in Woodstock. For more information, call (845) 679-4406 or visit To learn more about the musicians, visit



Beltane Fest returns to Center for Symbolic Studies in Tillson this Saturday


Beltane marks the midpoint between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice and celebrates fire, fertility, renewal and awakenings. I see it as one more way to get your spring on. My friend Willow Shamson has three young children and has been attending the Beltane Earth Fest at the Center for Symbolic Studies (CSS) for 14 years. She says, “Every year, it’s a new and wonderful experience. Great shows onstage, a dragon that flies in overhead, huge puppets, horses, music, dancing and outdoor oven pizza. There are usually some fun crafts for the kids, and they can dance around a maypole.” Earth-sprites and forest nymphs are especially welcome, and costumes are encouraged.

Beltane is celebrated at CSS on Saturday, April 28 from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. Admission to the event is $12 for adults, $6 for teens and seniors; children under age 10 get in free. On-site parking costs $15, but the offsite parking and shuttle are free. CSS is located at 475 River Road Extension in Tillson. For more information, call (845) 658-8540 or visit



Get alienated at Pine Bush UFO Fest this weekend



My kids are fascinated by all things outer space and alien, so I can see that they are going to love the Pine Bush UFO Fest. But why Pine Bush? It seems that Pine Bush is a hotbed of UFO activity, even considered the “UFO capital of New York” and possibly the entire East Coast. It’s also the site of Whitley Strieber’s book, Communion: A True Story. Got questions? There are plenty of ufologists on hand to help.

The family-friendly Pine Bush UFO Fest takes place on Saturday and Sunday, April 28 and 29 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the bulk of children’s activities take place on Saturday, such as the 3 p.m. parade. Other activities include Merchant Hide & Seek to find Alfie the Alien to earn free ice cream cones, a bounce house, carnival games, face-painting, an alien egg-hunt, a student UFO art show and more. I think that the UFO Crash Extrication Demo – aimed at showing kids how the ambulance corps gets you out of a wrecked vehicle – is especially clever.


The Pine Bush UFO Fest takes place throughout town. For more information, call (845) 744-5648 or visit



New Paltz Regatta launches again this Sunday


Our family looks forward to the New Paltz Regatta every year; we always have such a great time. While a regatta is defined as a series of boat races, the term “boat” is only loosely applied to most regatta craft. I’d say that the “boats” in the New Paltz Regatta are open to interpretation, and that’s half of the fun: just seeing the creations that people design each year, and then seeing how well they float (or not).

On Sunday, April 29 at 1 p.m., crafts of all shapes and sizes will show off in the parade down Main Street. The Family of New Paltz Rubber Duck Race is at 1:30 p.m. It’s an enormous release of rubber ducks who bob along to see who will win their race. Each duck can be sponsored by a spectator – which is my kids’ favorite part, hoping that their duck will yield them a prize. The homemade watercraft race is the final race of the day at 2 p.m.

Event organizer Theresa Fall described the Regatta: “The 50-year Regatta tradition continues from generation to generation. This is a special and unique celebration of friendly competition, imagination, artistic expression and good old-fashioned fun!” The festivities include live music by Fairweather Friends and Snowbear, grilled food by the Bruderhof and a bounce house. Proceeds from the New Paltz Regatta benefit Family of New Paltz.

The Regatta itself is free, but the rubber ducks and Bruderhof offerings are donation items. For more information, visit To learn more about the charity, visit



Dutchess Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck host Autism Walk & Expo this Sunday


In the 11 years since the Autism Walk & Expo was founded, the rates of autism diagnosis have climbed from one in every 500 kids to one in every 88. Statistics might help get our attention, but I believe strongly in getting to know people for who they are – that we can’t be in relationship with each other simply by knowing about someone. I asked my friend Joann Decker about her impressions of the Walk: “We have been to the Walk every year since Ray was diagnosed. The Autism Walk was the first time I didn’t feel like I had to explain Ray’s behavior. Everyone understands…no one judges. Our family and friends all go to support ‘Team Ray.’”

Just by virtue of being a member of the Hudson Valley community, I hope that everyone will rally their families together to attend and support this walk, which takes place on Sunday, April 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. “We encourage everyone to come, rain or shine, as we need every community resident to support and join our world, to become one world, to support the Hudson Valley autism community,” says Karen Kosack, president emeritus of Autism Society Hudson Valley and founder and chairperson of the Autism Walk & Expo.

Children’s activities include 96.1 Kiss FM’s Chris Marino, a bouncy house, the familiar “red tickle monster” character, arts and crafts, carnival games and balloons. The Walk takes place at the track area of the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. Anyone may participate in the Walk, and walkers are encouraged to solicit at least $100 in pledges, although all donations are welcome and no amount is too small. The Dutchess County Fairgrounds are located at 6550 Spring Brook Avenue in Rhinebeck. For more information, call (845) 331-2626 or visit


Toddlers on the Trail season opens this Friday at Mohonk Preserve


The Mohonk Preserve is a Wonderland for families of all ages. Open every day of the year and offering 70 miles of trails and carriage roads, it’s a great place to take a walk, go exploring and connect with the land. If you are new to some of these trails, or just want some company for your little ones, then the Toddlers on the Trail series is for you. The new season of Toddlers on the Trail kicks off with a hike this Friday, April 27 at 10 a.m., which ends by noon. Since 2009, Dana Rudikoff has been leading these monthly hikes for two-to-six-year-old children and their adults: “I love getting to watch the kids engage with nature around them. I love to see them excited about the plants and the flowers and the bugs and the rocks, and just finding the life in the natural environment.”

This series is for walkers, as they are not stroller-friendly wanderings. The hikes average 1.5 miles and move at a toddler’s pace. You’ll need a $12 day pass or a Preserve membership to participate, and registration is required. Wear appropriate footwear, bring water and a snack and leave pets at home. To register, contact Dana directly at (845) 532-9968 or



Ulsterites, sign up this weekend only for one month’s free trial membership at Mohonk Preserve


Love the Mohonk Preserve but afraid to commit? A basic annual membership only costs $55 (less than $5 per month), but if you’re on the fence about buying a membership, how about trying it out for free? On April 28 and 29, Mohonk Preserve will grant Ulster County residents a free one-month membership. Just head over to the Preserve Visitor Center or to the Spring Farm Trailhead between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. with proof of residency, then go check out some trails with your kids. The Preserve Visitor Center is located at 3197 Route 55 in Gardiner; Spring Farm is located at 23 Upper 27 Knolls Road in High Falls. For more information, call (845) 255-0919 or visit


Kingston’s MAC Park hosts “Let’s Move! Ulster” this Sunday


One of the tough parts of beginning something new is just that: beginning, shuffling things around in your day to fit it into your life. One thing that can be even tougher? Restarting after you stop. “Let’s Move! Ulster” can help!

“Let’s Move! Ulster” is a series of free events promoting health, community and movement in Ulster County, inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative to promote a healthy lifestyle for children. The 2012 “Let’s Move! Ulster” kickoff event takes place on Sunday, April 29 from 1 to 4 p.m. at MAC Park and includes previews of the coming year’s activities, as well as games, fitness classes, dance, yoga and more.

“The Youth Council is so excited for the kickoff event on April 29, and we can’t wait to see kids and parents running around, moving and having fun!” said Melissa Gibson, chairperson of the Partners in Public Health Youth Council and director of MAC Park. MAC Park is located at 743 East Chester Street in Kingston. For more information, call (845) 340-3160 or visit


Andy Murphy Neighborhood Center in Kingston offers Free Health Fair this Saturday


The Free Health Fair in Kingston on Saturday, April 28 looks like a lot of fun for all ages. There will be the regular assortment of free health information, along with various types of screenings, but check out this kid-friendly lineup: popular musician Uncle Rock; a martial arts demo; Kid Zumba; Bee Bee the Clown; and seed-planting. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Andy Murphy Neighborhood Center located at 467 Broadway in Kingston. For more information, call (845) 334-3182 or visit



This Sunday is Healthy Kids’ Day at Frost Valley YMCA


One of the YMCA Daily Tips in the Countdown to Healthy Kids Day is one of my all-time favorite family energy-burning activities: the obstacle course. “Get the family to a park. Create your own obstacle course by using equipment in the park. Take turns letting everyone in the family make something up and have fun.” I do this with my kids all the time at the playground. The kids plan out a route of runs, jumps and hurdles, and I time them doing it. Then they do it again and again, trying to improve their time, while I kick back on the bench or join in and get a mini-workout.

Frost Valley YMCA is hosting a Healthy Kids’ Day on Sunday, April 29 from 1 to 4 p.m. The afternoon features fun and free activities to inspire children and their families to bypass typical summer activity decline and remain active year-round, supporting healthy spirits, minds and bodies. Frost Valley is located at 2000 Frost Valley Road in Claryville. For more information about Healthy Kids’ Day, call (845) 985-2291 or visit



Newburgh Mall hosts Extreme Rides Car, Truck and Bike Show this Sunday


Since my idea of a tricked-out ride is having lip balm and change for the meter within arm’s reach while I’m driving, car shows blow my mind with their sheer creativity and absolute commitment to car accessories. Rev up your engines, round up your family and head over to K104’s Extreme Rides Car, Truck and Bike Show on Sunday, April 29 from noon to 6 p.m. in the back parking lot of the Newburgh Mall. Come for the “tricked-out rides,” stay for the bounce house. The fun isn’t just for the kids: Adults have a chance to show their inner-child action with the inflatable boxing ring and joust, as well as a motorcycle wheelie machine.

Admission to this event is $2 for adults; kids age 12 and under get in free. The Newburgh Mall is located at 1401 Route 300 in Newburgh. For more information about the show, visit



Erica Chase-Salerno lives, loves and laughs in New Paltz with her husband Mike and their two children: the inspirations behind She can be reached at

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