Kids’ Almanac (11/24-12/1)

Still from Walt Disney Studios' Moana, featuring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, newcomer Auli’i Cravalho and music by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Still from Walt Disney Studios’ Moana, featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, newcomer Auli’i Cravalho and music by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.


“See the line where the sky meets the sea / It calls me.”
– Moana


Visit ancient Oceania in Disney’s Moana

“Away, away!”…to see the new Disney Moana movie! Moana is destined to establish itself firmly in the Disney canon due to its strong, positive messages rooted in a Polynesian paradigm. Moana, voiced by 15-year-old Auli’i Cravalho, is convinced that she can save her people by finding the demigod Maui. However, she feels torn between following the call of her heart to explore the sea and obeying her tribal chief father, who strictly forbids travel beyond her island’s reef. Maui, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, clueless chicken Heihei’s antics and the sassy personality of the ocean itself are among the frequent laughs throughout the story.


Moana is a fictionalized tale taking place 2,000 years ago, but many of the details highlight Disney’s commitment to authentic representation of Pacific Islander culture. The creators consulted the Oceanic Story Trust, a team of regional cultural advisors assembled for this movie. In Moana, we get Samoan tuiga headdresses, not tiaras. We see tattoos, originated in Oceania thousands of years ago, not neckties. We hear Tokulean, a Polynesian language, not just English. Even the casting reflects the movie’s roots: Cravalho is Hawaiian, and Johnson has Samoan heritage.

It’s no small feat getting music into my head that’s not part of the Hamilton: An American Musical soundtrack, but lately, I am finding myself turning again and again to the dynamic textures and melodies of Moana. And it’s no wonder: Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, along with Pacific Islander composer and musician Opetaia Foa’i and composer Mark Mancina, created the soundtrack. The music is one more element that transports the viewer to Oceania in this story, from Moana’s yearning in How Far I’ll Go to Maui’s hilarious rendition of You’re Welcome to the movie’s inspirational theme song, We Know the Way.

Thanks to the generosity of some incredible friends and colleagues at Ulster Publishing (and Diana McKeon Charkalis and Diane Mizota at Fandango) I was able to preview Moana last weekend in California, as well as to fulfill the dream of meeting both Miranda and Johnson. Thank you, everyone, for the gift of this life-altering experience! And I cannot wait to see Moana again – with my kids this time! Moana opens on Wednesday, November 23. For more information, visit



Meet Santa on the Walkway

You’re shopping, you’re decorating, you’re thinking, “’Twas the night before Christmas…” and now, does your Christmas list start with the wish for your kids or pets to meet Santa in a special way this year? Preferably outside of a retail setting? How about simply outside? Well, throw in a pleasant walk with an amazing view, and now you’ve got a plan!

Head to the Walkway over the Hudson this Friday, November 25 from 1 to 3 p.m., on the western approach/Highland side for Santa! This photo op gives families the chance to walk off that big Thanksgiving meal while kicking off the holiday season on the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world.

Walkway over the Hudson’s Highland entrance is located at 87 Haviland Road in Highland. For more information, call (845) 834-2867 or visit or


Kingston hosts Sinterklaas

If you are looking for something quintessentially Hudson Valley with some holiday flair, then you need to include Sinterklaas activities in your plans this weekend. On Friday, November 25 from 1 to 4 p.m., families can attend the Crowns & Branches Workshop at the Rondout Neighborhood Center, located at 105 Broadway in Kingston. The workshop enables families to fabricate a scepter and headpiece for children to wear at the parade and subsequent riverbank sendoff of Sinterklaas on Saturday, November 26, and again at the Children’s Parade during Sinterklaas Festival Day next Saturday, December 3.

Saturday, November 26 from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. is the Sinterklaas Sendoff Celebration, a day filled with activities and open houses in celebration of Sinterklaas’ passage from Kingston to Rhinecliff, representing his traditional oceanic voyage from Holland to Spain. The festivities begin in Midtown with storytelling at the Kingston Library at 55 Franklin Street, with Samuel Osterhout sharing tales about how an explorer and his band help Sinterklaas find his way through the Catskills every year, followed by selfies with Parrots for Peace at 12 noon. At 12:30 p.m., get to the Collective at Broadway Commons, at 615 Broadway, for “A Taste of Mexico” for mariachi music, a beehive piñata and the traditional hot Christmas punch of Mexico, ponche Navideño.

Prefer locations in the Rondout? Make more crowns and branches, take selfies with them, visit the Hudson River Maritime Museum, take a trolley ride and all kinds of other events before the Children’s Maritime Parade for Sinterklaas, which kicks off at 4 p.m. from the Arts Society of Kingston at 97 Broadway. Most Sinterklaas activities are free, but donations are welcomed, and all are open to the public. For more information and a complete schedule, visit, and


Gilded Age Christmas, Holiday Whodunit at Mills Mansion

Feeling the holiday spirit but need a break from the traffic and the crowds? Get your history on! Be among the first this season to take in the decadence of the Staatsburgh State Historic Site at “A Gilded Age Christmas” this Friday, November 25 from 12 noon to 4 p.m. The opulent mansion is decorated for the season; what will the Christmas dining room look like this year? And you can find unique gifts in the museum shop afterwards. Admission costs $6 to $10 per person, and tours are available through December 31, Thursday through Sunday from 12 noon to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday from December 26 through 31.

Come back on Sunday, November 27 between 1 and 4 p.m. for the Holiday Whodunit. Ask guests and costumed interpreter servants for clues, and each child who hazards a guess as to who done it will be entered into a drawing when the answer is announced at the end of the year. The Holiday Whodunit is free with museum admission, which costs $8 for adults, $6 for students and seniors and is free for children aged 12 and under. Additional tours are offered on Sundays, December 4, 11 and 18 from 1 to 4 p.m.

The Staatsburgh State Historic Site is located at 75 Mills Mansion Drive Road 1 in Staatsburg. For reservations or more information about either event, call (845) 889-8851 or visit or


Walk off your Thanksgiving feast at Minnewaska

Did anyone resort to heated exchanges like “Take a hike!” over Thanksgiving this year? No problem; the Minnewaska State Park Preserve has got you covered! This Friday, November 25, come to the Thanksgiving Walk Off from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. This approximately two-mile hike includes carriage road trails. Want something more challenging? On Saturday, November 26, join the Millbrook Mountain Hike from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Both hikes offer views of the Wallkill Valley and more.

These programs are free and open to the public, but registration is required, as well as park entry fee at $10 per vehicle. The Minnewaska State Park Preserve is located at 5281 Route 44/55 in Kerhonkson. For reservations or more information, call (845) 255-0752 or visit


Marionette shows, candle-dipping workshop at Olana

Entertaining visitors this weekend, or just looking for something fun and interesting to do for all ages? How about a marionette show at a gorgeous historic estate? This Friday, the Olana State Historic Site presents Miniature Theater: Marionette Production, with a choice of Three Little Pigs at 10 a.m. or Carnival of the Animals at 11 a.m. – or purchase tickets to both! Handcrafted puppets and live music enhance these engaging stories for ages 3 and up, and why not stroll the gorgeous grounds after the show? Tickets for each performance cost $15 each for non-members, $10 for members, or $30 for a family of four.

And for families interested in doing handcrafting together, come back on Saturday, November 26 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon for Beeswax Candlemaking for ages 5 and up. Families will have a blast making rolled and dipped beeswax candles, which you may keep or use to surprise someone as a gift. Tickets cost $20 for non-members, $15 for members and $40 for up to a four-person family.

The Olana State Historic Site is located at 5720 Route 9G in Hudson. For tickets or more information about either event, call (518) 828-0135 or visit or



Headless Horseman Hayrides transforms into Frosty Fest

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and you know what that means: holiday lights! You could drive around area neighborhoods in search of illuminated excellence, or you could simply attend “A Frosty Fest” Drive or take a hayride through Frosty’s Enchanted Forest; see the dancing trees in the Glistening Gardens; visit with St. Nick himself in Santa’s North Pole and more. “A Frosty Fest” runs from Friday, November 25 through Friday, December 23, with Friday hours from 6 to 8 p.m., Saturdays from 4:30 to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Dress warmly; this is an outdoor event.

Tickets cost $13.95 plus tax for children under 12 and $16.95 plus tax for adults; or save $1 per ticket by purchasing online in advance. “A Frosty Fest” is located at Headless Horseman Hayrides at 778 Broadway in Ulster Park. For tickets, more information or children’s holiday printables, call (845) 339-2666 or visit



Wreathmaking workshops at Hyde Park Florist

Would you like a holiday joke? How about a craft to go along with it? Here goes: “Knock, knock!” “Who’s there?” “Holly.” “Holly who?” “Holly Days! Happy Holly-days!”

Now, how about a wreath on your door for the real knock-knocks? You can make your custom wreath at Hyde Park Florist & Gifts on Saturdays, November 26, December 3 or 10; time slots are 12 noon or 2 p.m., and registration is required. The cost is $22.50 for a wreath or $20 for a swag.

Hyde Park Florist & Gifts is located at 4204 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park. For more information or to register, call Dawn at (845) 229-9522, e-mail or visit


Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck presents Thanksgiving Weekend Magic with David Garrity

Too bad there’s no magic during Thanksgiving cleanup, right? Those dishes won’t wash themselves. So treat yourself and your family to some magic outside of the house by checking out Thanksgiving Weekend Magic with David Garrity this Saturday, November 26 at 11 a.m. at the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck. His one-man show features humor, audience participation and plenty of gasps and surprises. Admission costs $7 for children and $9 for adults and seniors.

The Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck is located at 661 Route 308 in Rhinebeck. For tickets or more information, call (845) 876-3080 or visit To learn more about the performer, visit



Celebrate Chancellor Livingston’s 270th Birthday Party at Clermont

Who’s got two thumbs and is 270 years old? This guy! Round up your crew for Chancellor Livingston’s Birthday Party this Sunday, November 27 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Clermont State Historic Site. Enjoy a special tour, crafts for kids, a costumed Chancellor Livingston interpreter and of course, cake! Admission costs $7 for adults, $6 for students and seniors, and is free for children aged 12 and under.

The Clermont State Historic Site is located at One Clermont Avenue in Germantown. For reservations or more information, call (518) 537-4240 or visit or



Fun with germs at Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum

Do you remember local author Molly Rausch’s delightful book, My Cold Went on Vacation? Now you can go next-level with your preschooler in Try Science! Yuck, Germs! this Tuesday, November 29 at 2:30 p.m. at the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum. Kids will learn about tiny creatures that are too small to seen but can make us sick, including experimenting with black-light markings to show how germs can spread, and examining yeast to learn about the good parts of microscopic organisms.

On Thursday, December 1 at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., your kids will enjoy Play Stations (as in theater, not video games). Play Stations consist of fun, playful theater shows set up around the museum, featuring crazy characters, wild puppets and more. Each of these programs is free with museum admission.

The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum is located at 75 North Water Street in Poughkeepsie. For more information, call (845) 471-0589 or visit



Lecture on black female slavery at Vassar

Brainstorming ways to engage your teen in history? Take a look at “The Fugitive Justice and the Abolition of the Master/Slave Girl Dialectic” happening this Thursday, December 1 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Vassar College, in the Main Building’s Villard Room. As part of the Centering the Lives of Black Women and Girls series, professor Jasmine Syedullah lectures about a formerly enslaved mother and abolitionist, including traditional patriarchal relationships to property, rights and freedom.

Vassar College is located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie. For more information, call (845) 437-5370 or visit


Erica Chase-Salerno sincerely thanks the friends and colleagues who helped make her dreams come true by sending her to meet Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Lin-Manuel Miranda at the Moana movie press conference in California. Thank you! She can be reached at