Stanley Park offers free summer programs for all ages

Stanley Park. (WNG File Photo)

WESTFIELD – Stanley Park is in full bloom, and anyone who has never visited has no excuse not to take some time to discover what everyone agrees is a gem at the heart of Westfield.

If viewing the rose garden, visiting the duck ponds and totem pole, or walking the trail in the Wildlife Sanctuary and spotting the turtles sunning on the rocks is not enough of an enticement, there are plenty of free summer events for families and people of all ages.

“Stanley Park offers something for all ages. Our summer Children’s Programs are free programs that bring children together in live and educational performances. These programs engage the children through music, storytelling, magic and more. Children sing, dance and interact with one another and the sound of laughter is often heard coming from the Pavilion Annex during the performances. We also help educate children about the environment and how to respect and care for the flowers, wildlife and our natural spaces,” said Managing Director Robert C. McKean.

Terry A La Berry will perform a free children’s concert for Friday Mornings for Children this Friday, July 19 from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Pavilion Annex at Stanley Park, weather permitting. (Photo submitted)

Friday Mornings for Children takes place from 10 to 11 a.m. in the Pavilion Annex, and showcases performances designed for the youngest family members.

This Friday, July 19, Kindness with Terry A La Berry and Friends will provide an hour of interactive positive messages for children and their families through song and dance. Performances are free of charge, and chairs are provided.
All summer programs are weather-permitting, although Events Coordinator Hillary McEwan said a light rain won’t necessarily cancel a program, but heavy rain and lightning will. McEwan asks that people who want to attend an event and aren’t sure about the weather stay tuned to the Stanley Park Facebook page, or go online to stanleypark.org for the latest posting.

Upcoming Friday morning programs include The Toe Jam Puppet Band on July 26. Expect an active hour, with the band encouraging kids and parents to dance along as they entertain with a unique combination of original songs, puppetry, storytelling and just plain old good fun.

Little Red Wagon, based in the University of New Hampshire, the longest running nonprofit children’s theatre tour in the United States, will perform Cleo’s Egyptian Tale on Aug. 2. Go along with Cleo on an Egyptian journey to save her kidnapped sister Furiah. Help her cross the Nile, make her way through the desert and past the Sphinx, whose riddle helps Cleo rescue her sister. On this unexpected quest, Cleo crosses paths with a variety of creatures who teach her important lessons about acceptance and friendship.

On Friday, Aug. 9, Annie & Safari Bob of the Natural Wonder Band invite children of all ages to a musical “Garden Party.” Get ready for songs, dances, jokes and puppets featuring birds, bunnies, bees, flowers, turtles, and trees.

Events for children are not just held on Friday mornings at Stanley Park, however. Wednesday mornings offer shows that are geared more toward education, and take place from 10 to 11 a.m., also in the Pavilion Annex.

On Wed., July 24, Mad Science of Western New England will perform “Spin, Pop, Boom,” featuring experiments that demonstrate the effect of centripetal force. Glass flasks are dropped and “magically” saved by the principal of angular momentum. Chemical reactions create a Genie-in-a-Bottle and an eruption of foam; and heat and pressure are used to create a rainbow effect in a series of flasks. They also discuss sound & resonance & produce cool sounds in their versions of the Didgeridoo and an awesome Mad Science pipe organ.

On Wed., July 31 from 10 to 11 a.m., Stanley Park is a sponsoring a special children’s program – a Scavenger Hunt through the Park. Meet Park staff at the Beveridge Pavilion Annex to pick you a scavenger hunt booklet, travel throughout the Park completing activities and return a finished booklet for a special prize.

Not all programs are geared for children, however, including the popular Sunday Night Concerts held at the Beveridge Pavilion from 6 to 8 p.m.

Featured this Sunday, July 21, is the Eddie Forman Orchestra, also known as “E.F.O.”, a Western Massachusetts polka band that has been performing since 1968. The band’s enthusiasm and love for the music they perform, their versatility and ability to embrace a wide range of styles, and their dedication to strong, lively performances make the E.F.O., an enduring success. People of all ages are invited to join the E.F.O. to enjoy a fun filled evening of good music.

On Sunday, July 28, Shakin’ All Over, one of New England’s Premier Dance bands, will pay tribute to the dance hits from the Top 10 from 1954-1964. Their song list now includes a selection of well over 300 songs from this legendary era of Rock ‘n Roll. This is their 18th year of performing throughout New England. Patrons who like 50’s & 60’s music are invited to come and dance, and can expect to be “Shakin’ All Over”.

The Karen Carpenter story starring Donna Lee will take place on Sunday, Aug. 4. In this tribute show, Donna Lee explores the musical treasures of the Carpenter’s catalogue and brings to life songs of joy, love and longing. Led by Karen’s rich contralto voice, the Carpenters rose to the top with “Rainy Days and Mondays”, “Hurting Each Other” and “We’ve Only Just Begun,” and established themselves as one of the most successful pop music groups of all time. In this show, Donna Lee delicately interlaces the story of a life of music and tragedy through word and song.

On Sunday, Aug. 11,“Bad Moon Risin’: The Creedence Fogerty Tribute Band” invites you to take a trip back to the past with the music of Creedence Clearwater and John Fogerty in a performance of their hit songs including ”Hey Tonight”, “Down On The Corner”, “Lodi”, “Fortunate Son”, and more.

For something more meditative, on Sunday, Aug. 18 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Carillon Tower, Stanley Park’s Carillonneur, Joe Geehern, will offer a variety of selections featuring the electronic Carillon Bells.

A turtle sunning himself on a lily pad in the Frank Stanley Beveridge Wildlife Center. (WNG File Photo_

On Friday, Aug. 31 at 12 p.m., nature lovers are invited to meet at the entrance sign to the Frank Stanley Beveridge Wildlife Sanctuary (across from the Recreation Field) for the Leave No Trace Workshop, led by the Appalachian Mountain Club. This workshop, geared to older teens and adults, will focus on fostering stewardship through one’s own practices in the outdoors. The group will spend an hour hiking on the beautiful trails in Stanley Park, periodically stopping along the way to discuss the 7 principals of Leave No Trace. This is an interactive course, with users encouraged to bring fresh perspectives and questions for conversation surrounding sustainable habits in the outdoors.

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