Kids Almanac:Whistlepig love, Souper Bowl & looking handy in front of your kids

Here’s how Groundhog Day rocked my world this year: I learned that groundhogs are the same animal as woodchucks.

I had no idea. It’s still sinking in. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what Julie Noble, from the Forsyth Nature Center in Kingston, has to say about what she calls “Woodchuck Day”: “Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are a very common mammal in the Northeast. Sometimes called whistlepigs, these large rodents often sound a loud sharp whistle when they are alarmed. Woodchucks are one of only a handful of species that truly hibernate. Beefing up their bodies with a heavy layer of fat in the early fall (usually chowing down on your garden plants!), these sun-lovers curl up in their long underground burrow where they won’t emerge until spring, having lost a few pounds!”

My family and I discover so much about our area with Julie and the rest of the folks over at Forsyth just by walking around the Nature Center and feeding greens or apples to the animals (RIP Isaac the Bull), or by participating in their interesting, engaging programs, such as their upcoming Hudson River Snowshoe Hikes on February 4 and 11. The hikes are free, but you must register at



Perhaps you prefer Nature in the form of team mascots. Superbowl XLVI is not only an opportunity to cheer on our New York Giants, but also a chance to inspire youth to help others in the community. Kathy Wade, program director for the Town of Rosendale Youth Program, told me about the Youth Center’s Superbowl Squares fundraiser. The teens are raising money for a new roof for the Town of Rosendale Dog Kennel: a cause chosen by the teens themselves. To support these kids’ efforts, you can sponsor a Superbowl Square at $1 each or donate a gift certificate for the prize pool. Contact Kathy at (845) 658-8982 or [email protected]

Another way for kids and families to share the Superbowl spirit at the local level is to do a “Souper Bowl”: collecting food from football-party guests to donate to area food pantries. Visit for details. Nora Snyder, founder of the Rosendale Food Pantry, affirmed, “We are grateful to the community for their food donations, especially canned goods right now, and ‘Souper-bowls’ are a great idea for collecting. Every little bit helps us out so much.” Find out more at

After seeing the pros in action, do your kids seem curious about trying football or cheerleading? You can help them develop their skills and foster their own team spirit by getting in touch with the Pop Warner leagues through



Looking for something more local and kid-friendly than the Superbowl halftime show? Biding your time until Finding Nemo 3D is released in September? Then mark your calendars for 11 a.m. every Saturday through April 21 and head over to the Center for Performing Arts in Rhinebeck for its Family Series. There’s just something enchanting to me about a live event: the dynamic connection between the audience and performers. From Babette Fasolino, education director: “We present a wide range of quality live performances geared toward children ages 3 and up and their families. Grandmas and Grandpas often accompany our young guests.”

The spring series kicks off this Saturday, February 4 at 11 a.m. with a fun romp of Pirate School. Upcoming performances include magic shows, fairytale puppetry, dance, music with Uncle Rock and more. Tickets can be purchased in advance through the box office, or on the day of the show at the door, at $7 and $9. Call (845) 876-3080 or visit



MUSET, our area’s homeschool orchestra, invites you to its free concert on Wednesday, February 1 at 6:30 p.m. in the Old Dutch Church in Kingston; use the 272 Wall Street entrance. Composed of players from ages 8 through grandparent, beginners through advanced, much of MUSET’s music was composed or arranged by longtime homeschooler Noah Lundgren, now a part-time student at Bard. Light refreshments will be served following the concert. Donations are accepted for support of the orchestra as well as for the Church, which donates the space for this event.



Gustafer (pronounced GUSS-tuh-fer) Yellowgold is playing on Saturday, February 4 at 11 a.m. in Woodstock as part of WDST’s “Kidtopia” concert series. Tickets are $7 and $9. Equal parts pop/rock concert and animated storybook, Yellowgold’s performances appeal to kids and adults alike. Dean Jones of Dog on Fleas says, “Gustafer Yellowgold writes genius pop songs that my kids and I love. And the kids are always running around the house pretending to be his absurd and fun characters.”



It’s hammer time. Maybe you have mad building-and-assembling skills, and maybe you don’t. Either way, this is a total win for you. Your kids get experience putting their own projects together, and they’re usually easy enough for you to look like you know something. And did I mention that they’re free? Home Depot and Lowe’s host free children’s building programs that are so great for ages 5 through 12, especially during these winter months.

The Home Depot Kids’ Workshops take place the first Saturday of every month from 9 a.m. to 12 noon; this month it’s Saturday, February 4. Visit for details. Lowe’s Build and Grow workshops tale place twice a month on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. Visit


Erica Chase-Salerno lives, loves and laughs in New Paltz with her husband Mike and their two children, the inspirations behind She can be reached at [email protected]


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