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Archive for Monday, October 28, 2002

Festival spooks, entertains kids

October 28, 2002

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Hundreds of pint-sized ghosts, vampires, butterflies and fairy princesses haunted the halls of the University of Kansas Natural History Museum Saturday night.

Anna Clayton, 6-year-old Lawrence resident, feels the wing of a flying fruit bat held by Heather York, Lake Geneva, Wis., graduate student, at the Natural History Museum.

The museum worked with KU Memorial Unions to put on Dark at the Top of the Hill, a Halloween festival for children.

The annual Halloween event brings local kids and their parents on campus for a fun and educational experience, said Brad Kemp, assistant director of the museum.

"Its a community event," Kemp said. "It gets people who normally wouldnt come to campus to come up here with their kids."

Dark at the Top of the Hill was presented in the Kansas Union and the Natural History Museum. The museum turned off its lights for the event.

The costumed kids shone flashlights in the darkened building to catch a glimpse of the living and the dead among the museums collection of creepy critters.

Next door at the Kansas Union, they bowled with pumpkins, listened to scary stories and took turns singing "skaraoke."

More than a thousand people attended the event. Kristen Wheeler, an Emporia senior who works in the public education department of the museum, said the event raised interest in the museum and in science.

"It gives us a chance to really interact with the public and to show them the fun of what we do in the museum," Wheeler said.

Museum workers taught the kids at the event about the scary things on display.

At one table, a woman helped kids make bat masks and answered questions using a mounted skeleton of a bat.

At another table, a boy flashed his flashlight and his plastic vampire fangs at a lizard scurrying in an aquarium. Its called a "frilled dragon," the man behind the table told the crowd of kids.

The event allowed museum workers to kick back and have fun, Wheeler said, who was dressed up as Snow White.

Most of the people who worked at the museum Saturday night donned costumes. Even the exhibits were dressed up. A stuffed polar bear wore a mask, while a giant lizard skeleton breathed red, orange and white paper flames.

At the union, kids played with the lights on. A tiny Britney Spears look alike belted out "Oops, I Did It Again" on the karaoke machine. Others decorated orange paper pumpkins.

Lyle Minard watched his 6-year-old son Zach, who was dressed up as an army soldier, roll a pumpkin and knock down two-liter soda bottles decorated as ghosts.

Minard recently moved to Lawrence and learned about the event from his sister and her husband.

"I wanted to give my kids a good time," said Minard, whose 9-year-old daughter Sandra was dressed as a cowgirl. "This is really nice for the kids."

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