WATCHUNG RESERVATION – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Department of Parks and Recreation are pleased to offer special “February Festivities” programs at Trailside Nature and Science Center in Mountainside during the Presidents Day holiday weekend, Feb. 13-17. Pre-registration is required for most programs. Call Trailside for space availability. Walk-ins will be accommodated as space permits.
“All of the programs during February Festivities give families an opportunity to enjoy creative and interactive programs that will teach, entertain and delight adults and children of all ages,” said Freeholder Chairman Christopher Hudak. “Union County is committed to providing affordable family fun at our facilities.”
Kicking off the holiday weekend on Thursday, Feb. 13, at 7:30 p.m. for adults, ages 18 and older, is “Songs of the Civil War: History and Myth.” Lisa Wilkins and Chuck Winch, dressed in period clothing, sing authentic Civil War songs and original compositions to explore how popular songs shaped and reflected the sentiments and events of the time. This program is sponsored in part by the New Jersey Council for Humanities and it will take place in the renovated Masker’s Barn located in the Deserted Village of Feltville. Please meet in the parking lot at Cataract Hollow Road, off Glenside Ave., at 7:15 p.m., where a van will transport participants to the barn. There is no fee for this program; however, donations are appreciated.
On Saturday, Feb. 15, at 10 a.m. families can learn how to build the “Perfect Campfire.” Working together, each family will collect tinder and kindling to make a decorative fire starter kit for their home fireplace. Using their new found knowledge, participants will help to light a campfire and enjoy sipping hot cocoa and toasting marshmallows.
At 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, see how 100 percent real maple syrup is made from the sap of a sugar maple tree during “The Journey of Sap to Syrup.” Find out what equipment is needed to collect sap and take part in a taste test to see if you can identify the real thing. This “sap to syrup” program will be repeated on Monday, Feb. 17 at 3:30 p.m.
Later on Saturday, discover how many natural history items your family can find in the winter woods during the “Winter Scavenger Hunt” at 3:30 p.m. Search for animal tracks, acorns, winter grasses and nests. Then enjoy hot chocolate and marshmallows as we compare answers around a warm campfire. A prize will be given to the team with the most points.
Take a short walk outdoors during “Feed the Birds” to look for our feathered friends and find out how they are coping with the cold winter weather. Visit the Bird Viewing Area and help the naturalist fill the feeders. Enjoy watching which birds come to eat and learn to identify them by sight and sound. Find out about the different types of seed used to attract birds and make a wild bird treat to take home.
Highlighting the festivities on Monday, Feb. 17, at 1:30 p.m. is the Wallaby Tales Traveling Zoo. Many mammals have developed amazing characteristics to avoid becoming “lunch.” Meet live animals as you find out how they defend themselves from other animals in this educational and entertaining program. This matinee is recommended for ages 4 and older and admission is $5 per person. Tickets for Wallaby Tales Traveling Zoo go on sale at 1:00 p.m. before the matinee. No strollers in the auditorium, please.
Programs during the weekend February Festivities are recommended for families with children ages 5 and older unless otherwise specified. The fee for “Perfect Campfires” is $6 per person for residents of Union County and $7 per person for non-county residents. The fee for “The Journey of Sap to Syrup,” “Winter Scavenger Hunt” and “Feed the Birds” is $5 per person for Union County residents and $6 per person for out-of-county participants.
For additional information about programs offered during February Festivities or any upcoming programs and special events, please call 908-789-3670 or visit us at www.ucnj.org/trailside. Trailside Nature and Science Center is located at 452 New Providence Road in Mountainside and is a service of the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders.