Kids’ Almanac (December 13-20)

(Andres San Millan)

Rhinebeck’s Cocoon Theatre performs Boxaroxen this weekend

I remember when my daughter approached our friend Linda Brook during a recent visit, inviting her to “buy” something at her pretend store. While I lamented over losing track of our supplies of play money, L. B. just tore off a few pieces from an empty cereal box on the counter and offered them in exchange for the magic wand. This currency was enthusiastically received, and the proprietress was pleased with her profits earned that morning. It was such a fantastic reminder to me that it’s the simple things: It’s not about having the “right” kinds of coins and banknotes; it’s about the spirit of play behind them.

Such is the case in the book Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran and Barbara Cooney. Boxes of rocks and other odds and ends are used by children to create imaginary objects that are repurposed into new stories again and again. Marguerite San Millan and the Cocoon Theatre present an original play inspired by that story, Boxaroxen. Boxaroxen is the name of a fantasy town made out of old crates, boxes and rocks created by a group of children one summer in Yuma, Arizona.

The actors performing in Boxaroxen range from ages 9 to 13 years, including Ada Graham-Lowengard, who is excited about this production: “I could talk about it for days, ‘cause it’s my favorite play I’ve done at Cocoon (well, the play I’m working on is always my favorite).”

What is this piece about? Graham-Lowengard explains, “I think the play is about how we never let go of those memories in our childhood; they stay there forever through your life and guide you. It’s also about children’s pretend play and how it seems real to them, and their pretend fantasies matter just as much as real life matters to adults.” Now I can’t wait to see it!

If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing productions at Cocoon, you are in for a treat. This small, intimate atmosphere is such a great way to see theater, including comfy cushions in the front row, which my kids love, and chairs in the second row, which my back appreciates. Boxaroxen takes place on Friday and Saturday, December 14 and 15 at 7 p.m., and Sunday, December 16 at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $15.

The Cocoon Theatre is located at 6384 Mill Street (Route 9) in Rhinebeck. For tickets or more information, call (845) 876-6470 or visit


UPAC screens The Sound of Music this Friday

Score some points with your resident Minecrafter by singing Pedro Esparza’s videogame parody of “My Favorite Things”: “Mining and digging, some smelting and crafting/Drinking some potions and also enchanting/Kill evil spiders to gather some strings/When you play Minecraft you’ll have all these things.” And do you remember the dialogue after the Simpsons crash into the animal statue? Homer’s “D’oh!” followed by Lisa’s “A deer!” continued by Marge’s “A female deer.”

Since the 1965 movie, Sound of Music references have woven into every corner of popular culture. This weekend, you’ve got two chances for your family to see this classic on the big screen: at the Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC) and at Rosendale Theatre (see “Frozendale” elsewhere in this week’s Kids’ Almanac). Give your kids the opportunity to compare Julie Andrews to next year’s live remake of the original 1959 Broadway musical, starring Carrie Underwood as Maria von Trapp.

The Sound of Music will be shown on Friday, December 14 at 7:30 p.m. at UPAC, which is located at 601 Broadway in Kingston. Tickets cost $6; nuns get in free! For tickets or more information, call (845) 339-6088 or visit


Gingerbread House Party at Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum

We look forward to our family’s annual tradition of making gingerbread houses – not so much for the fanciful scenes that we will create, but more for the disasters that inevitably seem to befall them. There was the year when I waited too long to cut the windows and doors out of the panels, cracking the walls. This was salvaged by setting the scene with a tree that had “fallen” on the house. Then there was the time when we used a new royal icing recipe, which royally failed at cementing anything together, creating a sag in the roof and fallen confectionary decor. We always have a good time anyway, munching on the sweet candy bits while we attempt yet a new construction of this traditional cookie treat.

Whether you relate to the same artistic challenges that our family does, or you just don’t want the mess in your own kitchen, you might want to make a reservation at the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum’s Gingerbread House Party. The Gingerbread House Party takes place on Friday, December 14 at 6 and 7 p.m. The cost is $20 per gingerbread house, $25 for a take-home kit. Plus, admission to the museum is free from 6 to 8 p.m.

The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum is located at 75 North Water Street in Poughkeepsie. For reservations or more information, call (845) 471-0589 or visit


Frozendale Daze this Saturday

To many people, “outside time” in December means dashing through the cold: either picking out a Yule tree, running from parking lots to storefronts or hitting the slopes for some early skiing. But to those of us in the know, Frozendale Daze is a relaxed pre-season highlight of winter.

Just read this lineup of great activities, which includes plenty of indoor family fun: a Booktique at the Rosendale Library; a visit with Santa and his elves; hayrides; a mac-and-cheese bakeoff; and live performances throughout the day, including the Animals in Winter puppet show at the Redwing Blackbird Theater at 12:30 and 2 p.m., music by Shabbat and Andrea at 3 p.m. at the Rosendale Café and a session with the band Yard Sale at 4 p.m. And if you are looking for a chance to get your “Edelweiss” on, don’t get your lederhosen in a twist: there are two singalong screenings of The Sound of Music at the Rosendale Theatre at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Frozendale 2012 takes place on Saturday, December 15 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. throughout Main Street in Rosendale. For more information, including a complete schedule and list of vendors, visit Frozendale Daze on Facebook or e-mail [email protected]


Holiday Open House at FDR sites in Hyde Park

“It is fun to be in the same decade with you,” cabled Franklin Roosevelt to Winston Churchill. Now, decades later, we locals can have our own fun with a visit back in time to learn about the life and work of President and Eleanor Roosevelt, right in their own private residences.

On Saturday, December 15, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, the Home of FDR National Historic Site and the only national historic site dedicated to a first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill retreat, will host a series of free holiday events. There will be holiday decorations in the style used during the Roosevelt presidency, refreshments and special activities.

From 12 noon to 4 p.m., the seventh annual Children’s Reading Festival takes place in the Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Education Center, featuring authors Iza Trapani, Michael Garland and Peter McCarty. All ages will enjoy hearing excerpts of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol during the Open House, and the Roosevelt Library is exhibiting “The Roosevelts: Public Figures, Private Lives.” In addition, there will be free photos with Santa from 1 to 3 p.m., and children can make holiday cards for sailors on the USS Roosevelt beginning at noon. Refreshments will be served throughout the afternoon.

The Holiday Open House at the FDR site runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Holiday Open House at Val-Kill runs from 4 to 7 p.m. There is no parking on-site at Val-Kill; shuttle transportation leaves from the Wallace Center. Parking for these events is limited and attendees are encouraged to carpool when possible.

The Roosevelt Library and the FDR National Historic Site are located at 4079 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park. For more information, call Cliff Laube at the Roosevelt Library, (845) 486-7745; or Franceska Macsali Urbin at the National Park Service, (845) 229 6214; or visit, or


Celebrate “A Victorian Holiday” at Olana

Just as cats feature prominently on the Internet today, as demonstrated by the popularity of Keyboard Cat, Nyan Cat and LOLcats, illustrations of cats and other animals were commonly found on Victorian Christmas cards. With so many Christmas traditions popularized during the Victorian Era, it’s interesting to learn how Christmas trees made their way into the mainstream. (It’s also handy to blame an era squarely for such abominations as mince pie and fruitcake.)

One fun way to connect the traditions of today with the customs of yesteryear is to visit Olana’s “A Victorian Holiday” this weekend. See Sue McLane dressed in full Victorian attire, describing Victorian holiday traditions while adorning a Christmas tree. Space is limited, so attendees should preregister by Thursday, December 13.

Olana’s “A Victorian Holiday” takes place on Saturday, December 15 from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Wagon House Education Center. Admission is $5 per person or $15 for families of four. Olana is located at 5720 Route 9G in Hudson. For more information or to preregister, call (518) 828-1872, extension 109, or e-mail [email protected] Olana’s website is




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