Public Info

Enjoy February Festivities at Trailside During Presidents’ Day Weekend, Feb. 17-22

MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Department of Parks and Community Renewal are pleased to announce an exciting line-up of programs for families at Trailside Nature & Science Center during the Presidents’ Day Holiday weekend.

“February Festivities,” held from Thursday, Feb. 17 through Tuesday, Feb. 22, will include numerous types of programs, as well as a special matinee on Monday, Feb. 21: “Up, Up and Away with Mad Science of West New Jersey.” All programs are recommended for families with children ages 5 and up. Pre-registration is required for all programs, unless otherwise noted.

“The programs at Trailside during February Festivities promise to entertain and educate, while offering families an opportunity to experience the beauty and wonder of Watchung Reservation during the winter,” said Freeholder Chairman Deborah Scanlon. “Whether it’s a fascinating lecture, a hike in the woods or an action packed matinee, there is sure to be something for everyone.”

Kicking off the weekend on Thursday, Feb. 17, from 7:00-8:00 p.m., is a compelling lecture, “All about Owls,” presented by Lauren Butcher of the Raptor Trust. The audience will get an in-depth look at the lives of these mysterious birds and learn about the special adaptations that make owls such effective hunters. The audience will get to meet one of the center’s non-releasable avian ambassadors, while learning about the eight species of owls that live in New Jersey. The fee for this lecture is $8 per person for in-county residents and $10 for out-of-county residents.

Families will certainly enjoy seeing how 100 percent real maple syrup is made from the sap of a sugar maple tree in “The Journey from Sap to Syrup” on Saturday, Feb. 19 and Tuesday, Feb. 22, from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. and from 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 21. Participants will learn what equipment is needed to collect sap and take part in a taste test to see if they can identify the real thing.

During “Nature’s Scavenger Hunt” on Saturday, Feb. 19, from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m., families will use Trailside’s state-of-the-art exhibits to answer questions about plants, animals and the natural history of the Watchung Reservation. Participants will discover what “Nomahegan” means in the Lenape language and many other fascinating facts.

There are plenty of opportunities throughout the weekend for families to enjoy the outdoors with interactive programs that will heighten your awareness of the natural world during the winter. On Saturday, Feb. 19, and Tuesday, Feb. 22, from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m., families will learn the difference between a land tortoise and a water turtle, and investigate the similarities and differences of reptiles during an exciting adventure into the world of “Snakes & Turtles of NJ.” Participants can hold turtle shells and feel a shed snake skin and meet live snakes and turtles from Trailside’s collection.

Another highlight of the weekend is the matinee, “Up, Up and Away with Mad Science of West NJ,” presented on Monday, Feb. 21, from 1:30 -2:15 p.m. The audience will be captivated by eye-popping demonstrations and experiments that show how exciting science can be. This matinee will allow plenty of hands-on audience participation and will offer plenty of excitement as they learn about the three states of matter; air pressure; a hot air balloon; the Mad Science Hovercraft; the Big Sneeze demonstration; and so much more. This matinee is recommended for children, ages 4 and up and the fee is $4 per person. Tickets go on sale at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 21 at the Trailside Visitor Center.

On Monday, Feb. 21, from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m., families also can take a short walk outdoors to look for feathered friends in “Feed the Birds” and find out how birds cope during the cold winter months. Participants will visit the Bird Viewing Area and help the naturalist fill the feeders and make a bird feeder to take home.

“February Festivities” will conclude on Tuesday, Feb. 22, with “A Walk in Winter.” From 3:00 – 4:00 p.m., join a naturalist on a hike outdoors to look for deer paths, rabbit tracks and other animal signs. Participants will learn the many survival skills used by plants and animals during the winter. The hike will end around a warm campfire with hot chocolate and marshmallows.

For more information on the programs offered during February Festivities or on any other upcoming events, call 908-789-3670 or visit us on the web at Trailside Nature & Science Center is located at 452 New Providence Road (at Coles Avenue) in Mountainside and is a service of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

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Mountainside, NJ – A family enjoys toasting marshmallows around a campfire with naturalists Joe Filo and Becky Novorro after a hike in the woods during last year’s “February Festivities” at Trailside Nature & Science Center. Exciting programs are planned for this year’s “February Festivities,” scheduled for Feb. 17 – 22. For information about specific programs, dates, times and fees, call Trailside at 908-789-3670 or visit us on the web. Trailside Nature & Science Center is located at 452 New Providence Road in Mountainside and is a service of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders.



For more information on any Union County press release, please contact Sebastian D’Elia, Communications Director for the County of Union, or a designee listed at the top of this press release. Please join the County of Union online at, on Facebook at, and on Twitter at .

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