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October 2019

Play2Learn Festival—a Wonderland of Imagination and Creativity for the Community

By Stephen E. Lipken


An estimated 3,000-plus citizens from Harrison and outlying communities gathered in Ma Riis Park on Saturday, September 7 to savor the fourth annual Play2Learn Festival, funded by Harrison Public Library Foundation and an ArtsWestchester Arts Alive Grant, promoting learning through play with a wonderland of activities from sky to sea.


Using a “passport,” children passed through eight Play Zones, including Physical; Music; Make Believe; Technology; Creative; Science; Constructior and Sensory, getting their passports stamped at each Play Zone station to win prizes.


At the Cold Spring Harbor, L.I. Whaling Museum and Education Center exhibit, funded by a grant from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Educator Caroline Hehir pointed to their “Enviroscape,” watershed protection, a model simulating what pollution can do to water systems, including runoffs from farmland fertilizer and factories.


Regarding the sky, Aviated Precision Aerial Drone Services fielded a drone that enabled children to take “dronies” (selfie photographs) from the sky.  “Bach to Rock” Music School featured “hands on” percussion instruments for pupils to play on.  The “Bubble Bus” spewed hundreds of bubbles and there were fun “bounce castles.”


Two whimsical yet educational displays were “Smile Starters,” Pediatric Dentistry with winged “tooth fairies” and a dinosaur to practice brushing skills.  Students could perform their first aid skills on “Boo-Boo,” a giant bear from White Plains Hospital and take home little stuffed souvenir bears.


“This is the first Saturday in September, and it’s like the official start for the school year because the Harrison Play2Learn Festival is underway,” County Executive George Latimer observed.


“It is not just a festival for fun. There are learning elements in some of these different booths and you see kids using their artistic talents and…brain power, which is exactly what you want kids to do to have fun but also to learn.  I complement the Library and Library Foundation for doing this…”


“It’s a beautiful, beautiful day,” Harrison Public Library Director Galina Chernykh exclaimed. “It’s a wonderful community and the Library is truly in the middle of our community. It is a partner of our community.”