After visiting with Santa on Saturday, Tyelor Holloway slowed down long enough during his adventure at Tails in Tinseltown to say he asked Old Saint Nick to bring him a new bike for Christmas
“A big one. Orange or red,” he said after a pause to think and some prompting by mom, Lindsey Beckwith. “Yeah, that’s top of the list. That’s the very first thing I thought of.”
Sponsored by Friends of Lee Richardson Zoo, Tails in Tinseltown at the Finnup Center featured opportunities for children and adults to have breakfast with Mrs. Claus, Christmas train rides, crafts and meeting with Santa Claus himself.
In a hallway, volunteers showed off Lucy the hedgehog and Harley the chinchilla, allowing children to see the spiny and furry critters up close and even lightly touch them.
Sidney Worf, a zoo docent, said the animals are part of the zoo’s educational animals, which are taken into schools as part of educational programs.
“They have their own little homes here, and we take them out to visit. Harley has his own exercise ball today just because there’s so many people around. It gives them a place to be secure,” Worf said.
In another room, children could work on a craft project to create a reindeer using glue, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners and other crafting materials.
Shannon Ford and his wife, Megan, and their three children Clara, Cody and Emma, who ranged in age from 4 to less than a year old, enjoyed what the zoo had to offer.
Cody, age 3, showed the reindeer he made earlier but was understandably a bit shy about talking to a stranger about his project.
“We’ve had a good time,” Shannon Ford said. “It’s good for the kids to be down here.”
Millie Dearden, a member of the FOLRZ board, and her 21-month old twin grandchildren Addison and Chase, were in line to board the train after seeing Santa.
“They aren’t too sure about Santa, yet,” Dearden said. “They’re kind of like, maybe, maybe not. They loved the breakfast. Chase ate the sausage and Addie ate the chocolate chip pancakes.”
Dearden said the event is a great way to get people into the zoo and generate interest in its activities.
Jessica Norton, membership director, said attendance appeared to be up compared to last year’s inaugural event, noting they sold a lot of tickets online and things just seemed to run much more smoothly this year.
“Everybody’s enjoying it,” Norton said. “Santa is doing great — I don’t think anyone has cried yet. The trees look great. We’ve had a lot of community support with people coming in and decorating the trees.”
Norton said Tales in Tinseltown is one of the FOLRZ’s fundraisers in support of the zoo. Some zoos offer a parade of lights through their zoos but LRZ doesn’t have the electric capability to do something like that.
“We wanted to do something Christmas-ey,” she said.
Norton said FOLRZ is just starting to raise money for its next project, an expanded primates exhibit. The current primates exhibit is small and outdated. An expansion would provide animals more room outdoors to enjoy sunlight, and also would include an indoor viewing area for the public. The FOLRZ is tentatively looking at 2017 for the project.
For those looking for a Christmas gift or stocking stuffer, the zoo’s gift shop will be open through Dec. 21. Purchases at the gift shop also help support the zoo.
Historical Museum’s Holiday Open House
While separate from Tales in Tinseltown, the Finney County Historical Museum held its Holiday Open House on Saturday morning just next door to the Finnup Center. The two organizations did coordinate on scheduling their events.
In addition to Christmas cookies and refreshments, the open house featured the Front Door Gallery exhibit titled “Garden City Christmas Past” that contains a variety of local Christmas-related photographs.
“We’re having a lot of fun,” Steve Quackenbush, museum director, said. “We have pictures going back to 1939 of Christmas decorations and Christmas celebrations in Garden City.”
Some of the photo highlights include:
• One from 1950 featuring the decorative bells that hung above Main Street well into the 1960s.
• One from 1945 of a large Santa being placed on top of a building downtown that now houses public radio and was formerly the library and before that the post office.
• Santa arriving by helicopter in Stevens Park in 1955.
• A 1950 showroom window display by what used to be Nolan Motors on Main Street.
In addition to the photos, the exhibit features a manger scene that stood outside the old St. Mary Church on St. John decades ago.
Quackenbush said the museum has more than 17,000 items in its collection, and thousands of photos in its database. Some photos still exist as prints but a large number are held in a database that can be printed for exhibition.
“We like to have more and more people come into the museum. We like people to come and experience the history we have to share,” he said.
Outside the museum, Kim and Deb Robinson offered rides in their 1930 Model A Ford, which originally belonged to Deb’s dad. Kim said they drive it around quite a bit in the summer, not as much in the winter.
“There’s no heater, nor air conditioning, no nothing. It’s a fair-weather car,” Kim Robinson said.
But it’s a blast to drive, he added.
“You’re the computer in the car. When you start the motor, you have to set the distributor, and set the carburetor. Once you get it started, you’ve gotta twist this button or that knob. Then you take off,” he said with a laugh.
Robinson said he doesn’t know how fast the car will go; he never had much inclination to drive it faster than 40 miles an hour. Riders on Saturday took a trip in the Ford’s rumble seat.
“That rumble seat is a kick in the pants,” Robinson said. “Nowadays, you can’t even ride in the back of a pickup. That thing, you get to ride in the trunk.”
Kevin and Jill Larson and their son, Seth, who just celebrated his first birthday this month, were the first riders of the day.
“The seats were amazingly comfortable,” Jill Larson said, noting that her son almost fell asleep during the ride. “It was the perfect temperature, and it rocked back and forth and he could hardly keep his eyes open.”
Kevin Larson said it was fun, and the family planned to check out both the museum and the Tails in Tinseltown.
“We really didn’t know anything about this (the car ride), but we saw the signs and thought we’d give it a try,” he said.