Free Winter Break Crafts

Try a different craft every afternoon during winter break. Children must bring an adult. Come anytime from 1:00 pm- 3:30 PM, December 22-January 2.  No RSVP needed, walk-ins welcome. Donations are appreciated.


12/22- Pinecone bird feeder
 12/23- Snowflake suncatcher
 12/24- Felt heart project
 12/26- Holiday card collage frame
12/29- make butter, try on crackers
12/30- Squawking chicken
12/31- New Year’s party horn & hats
01/02- New Year’s scrapbook

Everything you ever wanted to know (and didn’t want to know) about Groundhog Day

We’ve finally arrived at my second favorite annual event that elevates goofy-looking animals to celebrity status for a day. That’s right: Groundhog Day! If you will recall from last November, my absolute favorite annual event is the Presidential turkey pardoning. Should you be curious, that spectacle’s origin is well documented in the Pulitzer-quality blog post here. But, I digress. Let’s turn our attention back to groundhogs.

large groundhog day blu-ray5

     Image courtesy of

Groundhog Day is, of course, a holiday in which people get up early to stand around outside in the cold and watch a groundhog be ceremoniously pulled from its hibernation hole. If it does not see its shadow, then an early spring is expected. Otherwise, there’s six more weeks of winter weather and the groundhog can go back to bed. The idea that an over-sized ground squirrel can evoke its advanced marmot powers to predict the weather is awesome all by itself. However, this seemingly silly ceremony has surprisingly deep historical roots.

February 2 marks the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Old German folklore connected this day with hedgehogs seeing their shadows since hedgehogs are a native species to Germany and emerge from hibernation around this time of year. Upon settling in Pennsylvania, German immigrants were dismayed to learn that hedgehogs were not indigenous to the area. However, native groundhogs have a similar hibernation schedule. As a result, groundhogs became an acceptable substitution in the tradition (besides, they both have ‘hog’ in their names).

Since 1887, residents of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania make a pilgrimage to Gobbler’s Knob to see if groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil will see its shadow. This furry prognosticator has 115 predictions on record so far with StormFax Weather Almanac. It indicates that Phil has a 39% accuracy rate and has only predicted an “early spring” 15 times (13%).


“Don’t drive angry!”
Image courtesy of

Although Phil is the most popular Groundhog Day representative, he is not the only one.  Other upstarts including Buckeye Chuck in Ohio, General Beauregard Lee from Georgia, Staten Island Chuck, a Canadian albino rat named Wiarton Willie, and Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam also make annual predictions. By far, the silliest animals to get in on the gig are Mount Dora Mike and Mount Dora Millie from Florida. They’re a prognosticating tortoise-and-hare duo.

As a side note, the awesome Bill Murry movie Groundhog Day was not actually filmed in Punxsutawney. The movie was primarily shot in Woodstock, Illinois. If you don’t mind getting up early for a short road trip, Woodstock has a great lineup of events planned for Groundhog Day. Check it out. Just don’t drive angry.

What are you doing new year’s eve: artifact spotlight #10

Champagne? Check. Party hat and sparkly dress? Check. Stranger to kiss at midnight? Check. Bring on 1935! Er, I mean 2013! This coming new year will certainly look a lot different than it did 78 years ago, but one element remains the same: movie stars still know how to party. It’s nice to know that some things never change. Featured in the image below were Frances Drake (far left), Dick Powell, Mary Brian, and Bill Gargan (far right) attending a new year’s eve bash with other Hollywood elite.

2010.67.033Indeed, Hollywood had a lot to celebrate. 1935 was a very successful year for film making. Faced with growing global political instability and the economic hardship of the Great Depression, movie-goers continued to flock to escapist, swashbuckling adventure films and monster flicks. That year, Errol Flynn made his first starring role as Captain Blood.  Instant film classics like Duck Soup, Mutiny on the Bounty, Scrooge, and Top Hat also debuted. For the actors in the image, 1935 was also a busy year. Frances Drake starred Les Misérables as Eponine, a role that defined her career. Dick Powell appeared in a staggering five films including, Broadway Gondolier with William Gargan and A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. Mary Brian also appeared in two films.

This AP image has been in the permanent collection of the museum archives for the past eight years but this is the first time it has been featured. To see this or other photos, drop in at the museum any time. We’re always happy to show off the collection. 


Everything you ever wanted to know (and didn’t want to know) about presidental turkey pardoning

Image courtesy of The Huffington Post, photographed by Brandon Wetherbee

Hands down, the annual presidential turkey pardoning is my favorite White House event. There’s something charming about the tradition and it’s hilarious watching people participate and report on the story (like this guy in the photo who looks like he gave a speech to the turkeys).

Only since 1989 have turkeys received official ceremonial pardons starting with President Bush. That first gobbler was sent to live out its days at a farm ironically called “Frying Pan” in Northern Virginia. All pardoned birds retired there until 2004. From 2005-2010, birds went to a farm in Florida and served as grand marshals in holiday Disney World parades.

Although President Bush grated the first official pardon, many prior presidents granted informal reprieves from the oven. The first was alleged to have been President Lincoln. The story goes that his son begged him to pardon a bird designated for the table and Lincoln gave in to the plea.  In modern administrations, the National Turkey Federation started sending birds for the White House table in 1947. Most were eaten, but President Kennedy sent his back to the farm it came from saying, “We’ll just let this one grow.”  After holding the traditional receiving ceremonies and having photos taken, President Nixon also sent his turkeys to a petting farm near Washington.

This year’s pardoning candidates, Cobbler and Gobbler spent a few days relaxing at the W Hotel before their big day. Although, only Cobbler will be officially pardoned this year, both he and the runner up will go to live at Washington’s Mount Vernon and be prominently featured in the estate’s Christmas festivities. After the holidays, the pair will be moved to the livestock facility not open to the public for a quiet retirement. They’re lucky since historically, most Presidents just ate their birds.