Kids’ Almanac: Feb. 16-23

St. Baldrick’s event in Saugerties, 2015 (photo by Alen Fetahi)

Cooper, age 5, Hurley: Are we marching yet?

Dad: Yes.


Cooper: I can’t really tell the difference between marching and walking.

Ukulele lessons in New Paltz

Could your teen be the next Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, Neil Armstrong, Cyndi Lauper or Taylor Swift? Because ukulele is a skill set claimed by each of these notables, and now your kid can learn, too! All local teens are invited to the Ukulele and Songwriting Workshop for Teens taking place at the New Paltz Youth Program beginning Tuesday, February 28 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. This series lasts for ten weeks and culminates in a final performance on Tuesday, May 16. Participants will learn chords, strumming and songwriting basics, and will receive support throughout the musical process. Register quickly, as this workshop is limited to 30 participants.


The New Paltz Youth Program is located at 220 Main Street in New Paltz. For more information or to register, e-mail or visit

Via Aquarium in Rotterdam

One, two, three, four, five/Once I caught a fish alive… Sure, it’s winter, but you and your family can still have all kinds of fish fun during frosty February! For example, the Via Aquarium is a new fish facility inside of a shopping mall, with 37 exhibits spread throughout a 25,000-foot space. It includes a fish tunnel called Shark Alley, which is such a blast to walk through as creatures swim above and next to me. And it has jawfish, which are suddenly my favorite because they use their mouths to hold their eggs or move rocks to dig vertical holes in the sand, which they pop into and out of like a Whack-a-Mole game.

The fan favorite seems to be the real-time interactive topographical map, where folks create hills and valleys in a sandbox with special lights that constantly update the contour and elevation lines, along with virtual water. My kids enjoyed the touch tanks and feeding a few pellets to the koi. Remember to ask for a free Fish Passport when you go in: These themed booklets offer prompts and questions for young people to engage with the exhibits as they search for answers and stamp machines around the aquarium.

Via Aquarium’s location, spacious layout and modest size make it the perfect destination for locals with littles to visit regularly – especially with Season Passport perks, which include free express admission, special events and discounts for guests and at the aquarium gift shop. Older children will move through the aquarium exhibits more quickly, but don’t be surprised when your tweens and teens get caught up in that topographical sand exhibit. Tickets are good for the entire day, so families can come and go to shop, eat at the food court, catch a movie or even play with the coin-operated remote-control boats in the fountain area down the hall.

For anyone traveling from a distance to check out the aquarium, I recommend filling out your day with a visit to miSci: The Museum of Innovation and Science ( or Proctor’s ( or the New York State Museum in Albany ( And when I’m in Schenectady, my family’s routine includes Perreca’s Italian Bakery (, Tough Traveler bags ( and the Open Door Bookstore (          Tickets to the Via Aquarium range from free, for children ages 3 and under, to $16 for adult weekend admission. The Via Aquarium is located at Via Port Rotterdam at 93 West Campbell Road in Rotterdam. For more information, call (518) 280-5100 or visit

And for those of you interested in taking things to the next level outside, either ice fishing or just angling in general, Saturday and Sunday, February 18 and 19 are Free Fishing Days here in New York State! Find out more at


Cheer on Special Olympians

You have been asking me for volunteer opportunities for your family. You have been wondering how you can give back to your community. Well, do you happen to know anyone loud? Because you and your family are needed to cheer on the athletes at the Special Olympics New York State Winter Games this weekend! Unlike the tournament’s participants, no training is necessary for this essential job; you just yell!

Opening Ceremonies, including the Parade of Athletes and lighting of the cauldron, take place on Friday, February 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Mid Hudson Civic Center, located at 14 Civic Center Plaza in Poughkeepsie. The event competitions take place on Saturday, February 18:

10 a.m.: Snowshoe & Cross Country at Bowdoin Park, 85 Sheafe Road, Wappingers Falls.

10 a.m.: Figure Skating at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center, 14 Civic Center Plaza, Poughkeepsie.

10 a.m. Alpine Skiing at Holiday Mountain, 99 Holiday Mountain Road, Monticello.

10:30 a.m.: Floor Hockey at Stewart Air National Guard, 1 Maguire Way, Newburgh.

For more information about volunteering or about the Special Olympics, call (845) 765-2497 or visit


Super Saturday at Hudson’s FASNY Museum of Firefighting

When is the last time your kids took a selfie with a firefighter? How about a canine firefighter? You and your family can learn all about fire safety and prevention by joining Firefighter Fran and Firestar the Dalmatian this Super Saturday, February 18 at 10:30 a.m. at the FASNY Museum of Firefighting. Then, stay at the end to get photos together and a chance to explore the museum.

As always, FASNY members and Columbia County residents get free entry on Super Saturdays! Admission for everyone else includes the show and the museum itself: $10 for adults; $5 for children 3 and older; $25 for family, consisting of two adults and their two children; free for children under 3.

The FASNY Museum of Firefighting is located at 117 Harry Howard Avenue in Hudson. For more information, call (518) 822-1875 or visit

Naming Ceremony in Kingston

Have you seen those History Happened Here signs? Well, how would you like to be where history happens?! Bring your family to the A. J. Williams-Myers African Roots Community Center Library Naming Ceremony this Saturday, February 18 from 1 to 4 p.m. The event begins with children’s puppetry and storymaking with Amy Trompetter at 1 p.m. The Naming Ceremony takes place at 2 p.m., including remarks by Dr. A. J. Williams-Myers himself; refreshments follow at 3 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.

The A. J. Williams-Myers African Roots Community Center Library is located at 43 Gill Street in Kingston. For more information and to learn more about Dr. Williams-Myers, visit

Kids’ Pizza & Movie Night at Kingston Maennerchor & Damenchor

Looking to mix things up for your date-night childcare? How about the Kids’ Pizza and Movie Night happening this Saturday, February 18 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at Kingston Maennerchor and Damenchor? This is a win/win/win: Kids ages 5 to 18 will enjoy being treated to a pizza dinner, snacks and a Rated G or PG movie; you will be happy to pay only $10 for this service, not to mention the $3 discount for each additional sibling; and the Hudson Valley Youth Chorale wins, because this event is a fundraiser for them!

Kingston Maennerchor and Damenchor is located at 37 Greenkill Avenue in Kingston. For reservations or more information, call (845) 750-3121 or visit

Presidential birthday bash at Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh

“…Are you 284?…Are you 285?…” Who in the world is turning 285 this weekend? Why, George Washington, that’s who! And you can help to celebrate! On Saturday, Sunday and Monday, February 18 through 20, we fête our founding father and first US president at the Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site from 12 noon to 4 p.m. In addition to music, military demonstrations, crafts and historical presentations, guests will have a chance to meet (reenactor) George Washington himself, to sing “Happy Birthday” and to eat birthday cake! Admission this weekend is free and open to the public of all ages, but donations are requested.                 The Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site is located at 84 Liberty Street in Newburgh. For more information, call (845) 562-1195 or visit

“Predators of the Wild” at Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck

If you were disappointed by the Falcons’ performance during the game, here’s one way to bounce back: Go see a real falcon! And you’re in luck, because birds of prey are a main event this weekend. On Saturday, February 18 at 11 a.m., the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck presents “Predators of the Wild” with Bill and Brian Robinson. All ages will be interested in seeing live birds of prey, along with live reptiles, while learning about how these species provide balance in nature. Tickets cost $7 for children, $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 presenters, visit


Storytellers for Hope: St. Baldrick’s & Relay for Life Fundraiser

By the time you finish reading this paragraph, another child will be diagnosed with cancer…and again…and again…and every two minutes after that. But this time, instead of just letting those two minutes pass by, you can use this information to engage and get your community service on! That’s what Cailee Quinn of Shokan did: “I have been involved in many organizations which help to raise money for those afflicted with cancer. When I found out the dynamic surrounding the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, I could not believe that so many selfless people could come together for a cause that I believe so strongly in. These individuals dedicate their time and energies, and all money raised goes directly to childhood cancer research. Having lost family members to this disease, I understand the hardships and sorrow associated with it. My hope is that one day a cure can be found. These children are our future. They and their families deserve every chance and the preservation of hope that they can get.”


Cailee has co-organized the Storytellers for Hope: St. Baldrick’s and Relay for Life Fundraiser taking place this Sunday, February 19 from 12 noon to 6 p.m. at Twin Lakes Lodge. Bring the kids to this one for 15-minute family photo sessions for only $15, fresh baked goods, hot food, music, raffles, free face-painting; and at 3 p.m., a Cup, Corks & Canvas session begins, the proceeds of which benefit Relay for Life. No appointment is necessary for the photos; just show up, and a cash bar is open all day.

Co-organizer Jessica Baloy of West Hurley, mother to four boys ages 14, 11, 5 and 3, is also excited for families to come out to Storytellers for Hope: “[St. Baldrick’s Ulster County event chair] Gloria Darmanin introduced me to this fundraiser, and it’s always inspiring to see how many people come together to get involved to help. You don’t realize the generosity of people until you reach out, and they go above and beyond! It becomes contagious because I feel like I’ve obsessed to help as much as I can for these families and children.”

What is all of this St. Baldrick’s excitement about, anyway? St. Baldrick’s Day Ulster County happens next month: a family-friendly fundraiser whose signature activity is watching volunteers “brave the shave,” with all proceeds to benefit pediatric cancer research, including support raised this weekend at the Storytellers for Hope pre-fundraiser. Gloria Darmanin of Saugerties, Mom to three boys, spearheads the St. Baldrick’s event and is so appreciative of the efforts by Cailee and Jessica this Sunday: “I’m excited for this pre-fundraiser! It’s an amazing opportunity to get your picture taken by top area photographers at a minimal donation cost while supporting a great cause. When I see that someone else has stepped up and put their intents into action, my heart just beams with excitement. One of my favorite sayings is ‘No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.’”

Twin Lakes Lodge is located at 198 Heritage Drive in Hurley. For more information about Storytellers for Hope, call (845) 633-3340 or visit To learn more about the St. Baldrick’s organization, visit


Free entry to national parks

If you love national parks and you love free admission, then this is essential reading: The National Park Service Fee Free Days in 2017 are Monday, February 20 for Presidents’ Day; April 15 and 16; April 22 and 23 for National Park Week Weekends; August 25 for National Park Service Birthday; September 30 for National Public Lands Day; and November 11 and 12 for Veterans’ Day Weekend.

National parks in the Hudson Valley include the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt (, Eleanor Roosevelt (, Vanderbilt Mansion ( and Martin Van Buren ( But those of you living with a fourth-grader can print up a pass for your child for free entry into any national lands and waters on any day by visiting For more information about National Park Fee Free Days, visit

Winter Preparedness workshop at Minnewaska

Did your power go out with all of the snow and ice we’ve been getting? Have you ever aspired to be the next Tom Brown or Kellie Nightlinger? Or maybe you have just wished you had at least a couple of survivalist tricks under your belt and in your best survival backpack , even just for camping? Suit up your crew ages 10 and up, and join “Winter Preparedness and Survival for Families” at the Minnewaska State Park Preserve Sam’s Point Area this February 20 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon Participants will learn how to dress for the elements, tips for packing your backpack, build a snow or debris shelter and use found material for building a fire. This program is free and open to the public, but there is a park entry fee of $10 per vehicle, and registration is required.

Sam’s Point is located at 400 Sam’s Point Road in Cragsmoor. For more information or to register, call (845) 647-7989 or visit

Dinosaur Workshop at Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum

Q: Why can’t you hear a pterodactyl using the bathroom? A: Because the ‘p’ is silent! Your kids can regale other children with this hilarious joke at the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum’s special Presidents’ Day program, “Dinosaur Workshop,” this Monday, February 20 at 1 p.m. Children ages 4 to 6 years old will learn about fossils, make a cast of a dinosaur tooth or claw and conduct a pretend paleontological dig. In addition to museum admission, this program costs $10 per child; free for adults.

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


“Science of Awesome” at Poughkeepsie’s Boardman Library

Want to give your youngster a leg up on becoming the next Emily Levesque or Bill Nye? Bring your family to the Boardman Road Branch Library this Tuesday, February 21 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. for “Science of Awesome” with the Flow Circus Kids. Paul Miller will engage preschool-aged kids and up with playful demonstrations of gravity and kinetic energy with toys that fall, balance and spin! This program is free and open to the public, and no registration is required.

The Boardman Road Branch Library is located at 141 Boardman Road in Poughkeepsie. For more information, call (845) 485-3445, extension 3320, e-mail or visit

Erica Chase-Salerno is bingeing on strawberry milk! She can be reached at