Kids Almanac: Mahicantuck pow wow, WWII in Hyde Park & more this Memorial weekend

My favorite parenting motto is my friend Anne’s phrase, “All children shine when celebrated for being exactly who they are.” But sometimes the world sends a different message to children, leaving them with feelings that they are “less than” or “not good enough” for being different. Add Asperger’s to the mix, and those feelings can be even more magnified.

For teens with Asperger’s, the movie The Asperger’s Difference is an “educational documentary designed to support high-functioning young people with autism as they begin the complicated emotional and physical transition into adolescence and adulthood.” Renowned autism advocate Temple Grandin praised the film: “This video would have been very helpful to me in high school….I also really like the way the video presented the positive side of being an ‘Aspie.’ This is a fantastic video, and it should be used in schools across the nation.” Rather than being an introduction to Asperger’s, this is geared toward youth and adults who have Asperger’s or are already familiar with it.

The Asperger’s Difference will be screened on Thursday, May 24 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at Quimby Theater at SUNY-Ulster. Admission is free, and there will be a question-and-answer session afterwards with filmmaker Jamey Wolff. SUNY-Ulster is located on Cottekill Road in Stone Ridge. For more information, call (845) 336- 2616 or visit



Fishy fun this Friday at Children’s Museum in Poughkeepsie


From babyhood splashing with tub toys to the underwater treasure-diving that my kids do now in the pool, it’s a lot of fun to discover hidden gifts beneath the surface of bodies of water. But have you ever tried it in the Hudson River? Come to the Mid-Hudson Museum’s “Family Fishy Fun!” event and see what comes up as they seine the river by dragging their 30-foot net along the river bottom. Make a fish rubbing, create an eel mobile and more.

“Family Fishy Fun!” takes place on Friday, May 25 at 10 a.m. Admission prices are $7.50 per adult or child over 1 year, free for members and children under 1 year. The Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum is located at 75 North Water Street in Poughkeepsie. For more information, call (845) 471-0589 or visit


Dutchess Stadium in Wappingers Falls hosts Pow Wow on the Hudson this weekend


Before Henry Hudson, before the Dutch, the first people who lived along the Hudson River were Native Americans. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, “Native tribes had named the river long before Hudson’s arrival. One of their names – Mahicantuck – means ‘great waters in constant motion’ or, more loosely, ‘river that flows two ways.’ It highlights the fact that this waterway is more than a river: It is a tidal estuary, an arm of the sea where salty seawater meets freshwater running off the land.”

I asked Aileen Weintraub, author of The Mohicans as well as dozens of other children’s and Young Adult books, her thoughts on local Native American history: “The Mohicans, along with many other tribes, have a deep-rooted history here in the Hudson Valley. They settled in this area because of the beautiful river, abundant wildlife and fertile lands. Learning about the tribes that lived along the Hudson River, and envisioning what it must have been like in these unsettled lands before big houses, electricity and even running water, will hopefully foster a sense of place for the children growing up here today.”

Want to give your family a chance to experience Native American culture? Bring the kids to this weekend’s Pow Wow on the Hudson: “The River That Flows Both Ways” Native American Festival. Event organizer Tony Moon Hawk says, “The entire purpose of this event is to expose children and families to Native American culture…to help show them that it’s not all ‘out West.’” Come celebrate living traditions from different tribes such as traditional dances, Native American crafts, Indian and American foods, storytelling and more.

Pow Wow on the Hudson takes place at Dutchess Stadium from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on May 26 and 27 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 28. Admission is $6 for adults aged 12 years and up, $5 for seniors and children aged 6 to 11 years. Dutchess Stadium is located at 1500 Route 9D in Wappingers Falls. For more information, call (917) 415-5139 or visit


Gun safety program for youth kicks off this Saturday at New Paltz Rod and Gun Club


Former coach Sam Wyche likened the motion of throwing a football in a tight spiral to flicking a booger. A tight spiral is essential for better control and speed of the ball, decreasing wind resistance, enabling it to reach its destination more accurately. The same principle applies to rifles. The barrel of a rifle is grooved, or “rifled.” This rifling spins the bullet as it moves forward through the barrel, stabilizing it and increasing the accuracy of the shot.

Whether your 12-to-17-year-old is familiar with shooting spitballs or throwing football spirals, you could add firearms safety and rifle-shooting skills to the mix through the New Paltz Rod and Gun Club Youth Program. The program will be conducted using National Rifle Association (NRA) programs and certified personnel. A mandatory safety class will be the first event, followed by a competitive marksmanship program. All events will use .22 rimfire rifles. An open house will be held at the Club on Saturday, May 26 at noon. The Youth Program begins on June 2 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. with the NRA First Steps Rifle Class, followed by Marksmanship classes and shoots every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. through August 25 (except June 23). The New Paltz Rod and Gun Club is located on Gun Club Road in New Paltz. For more information, call (845) 255-7586, e-mail [email protected] or visit


Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton offers “Animals & Acrobats” this weekend


If you want 2012 to be the year that you did more than just barbecue over Memorial Day weekend, then head over to historic Van Cortlandt Manor for an incredible day of fun. Modeled on an Early American traveling circus, this “Animals & Acrobats” event is led by ringmaster Jonathan Kruk and includes jugglers, acrobats, magicians and musicians, as well as animal conservation groups and more. There is also a circus arts camp for kids to learn skills such as walking on a low wire or riding a unicycle.

Animals and Acrobats takes place from May 26 through 28 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Picnic food and beverages are available on site, or you can order an entire picnic, complete with tablecloth, in advance. Visitors who purchase tickets in advance online can get free popcorn for everyone under 18 in their party. Tickets cost $16 for adults, $12 for children aged 3 to 17, and admission is free for children under age 3 and Historic Hudson Valley members. Van Cortlandt Manor is located at 525 South Riverside Avenue (off Route 9) in Croton-on-Hudson. For more information, call (914) 631-8200 or visit


Remembering WWII at FDR Historic Site in Hyde Park this weekend


Soldiers in battle dress will be on hand to share their love of history with World War II enthusiasts, families, teachers and students at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Historic Site in Hyde Park this weekend. Throughout the day, reenactors will explain what it was like for military personnel during World War II. Collections of period military vehicles, military uniforms, prop weapons and insignia will be on display at the site. Admission is free for this event, which takes place on May 26 and 27 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

While you’re there, I suggest that you take a tour (for a fee) of Roosevelt’s home. It’s so interesting to hear about the history of our area tied in with a locally born president, as well as some personal facts about FDR (did you know that he had a phobia of fire?). Plus, you’ll be that much more prepared for the FDR movie Hyde Park on Hudson, coming out in December!

The FDR Historic Site is located at 4097 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park. For more information call (845) 486-7745 or visit


Tour Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh with a reenactor this weekend


How would you like an opportunity for a rare, personal glimpse inside the lives of George and Martha Washington? On May 26 and 27, you have the chance to do just that at Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site. For those two days, Special Event First Person tours will be given at 1 and 3 p.m. Reservations are required for the presentations. Admission to a First Person tour costs $5; children aged 6 and under get in free.

On Saturday, May 26, sergeant John Phillips, a member of the Commander-in-Chief’s Guards, will be making security rounds at Headquarters Newburgh. Join him as he walks through the rooms of the Hasbrouck House, rented for the Washingtons during the last months of the Revolutionary War. He’ll speak about his duties, but with a little coaxing, he might also share just what goes on during the course of a day at this local farmhouse.

On Sunday, May 27, Tryntje Hasbrouck, who rented her home to the Washingtons, shows up to collect the rent. She’ll make use of the opportunity to walk through the rooms, checking that everything is how it should be. If you join her on an inspection tour of her home, you’ll hear about her perceptions of the Washingtons and gain some insight into just how this famous couple live.

Regular tours are given every half-hour beginning at 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., except at 1 or 3 p.m. during the First Person programming. Regular tour admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors and free for youth aged 12 and under. For more information or reservations, call (845) 562-1195 or visit


“Beautiful Birds for Kids” program for kids at Minnewaska State Park this Sunday


Have you lost your iPhone to your kids so that they can play Angry Birds? Do you love singing Pete Seeger’s folk tune “Little Bird, Little Bird”? Did squirrels take over your birdfeeder? Whatever your personal connection with our avian friends, how about some intentional time with your kids to explore birds together this weekend?

Minnewaska State Park Preserve is hosting “Beautiful Birds for Kids” this Sunday, May 27 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Bring your children to learn all about birds and what makes them unique. Then your kids will make their own toy binoculars. Finally, they’ll use their binoculars on a bird scavenger hunt along a mile-long carriage road near the Nature Center. This program is geared toward children between the ages of 6 and 10 years, accompanied by a parent or guardian at least 18 years of age. Preregistration is required for this program.

Minnewaska State Park Preserve is located at 5281 Route 44/55 in Kerhonkson. For more information or to register, call (845) 255-0752 or visit



“Yes Man” photography hike for teens in Poughkeepsie this Sunday


Renowned photographer Ansel Adams said, “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” If you or your teen are looking to upgrade your skills and gain some hands-on, real-time photo guidance and experience, go on a “Yes Man” photography hike with Kraig Kallmeyer (also known as Kraig with a K). Participants will learn about photo composition, as well as ideas for playing with their photos after they get the shot. An avid photographer, Kraig says, “So grab your camera and go, don’t say no or I don’t know…Say yes, Man!!”

Yes Man takes place in Poughkeepsie on May 27 from 2 to 5 p.m. The cost is a sliding scale from $10 to $20. For more information or to register, call (845) 229-9998 or visit


18th-century-style Memorial Day ceremonies at New Windsor Cantonment this Sunday


Joseph Campbell said, “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” This weekend is an opportunity to honor and remember so many of our heroes. Memorial Day was formerly known as Decoration Day, and began as a way to honor soldiers who had died in the Civil War. As time passed, the day has come to honor all Americans who have died in all wars.

One special commemoration is taking place at the New Windsor Cantonment Historic Site, “Honor Our Nation’s Fallen Soldiers.” The Cantonment is where the Continental Army spent its last winter and spring before the Revolutionary War ended in 1783. This May 27 event begins at 2 p.m. Continental Army soldiers will perform an 18th-century graveside mourning ceremony. Following the ceremony, balladeer Linda Russell will perform the songs that inspired and comforted the American people when our nation was at war.

New Windsor Cantonment is located at 374 Temple Hill Road in New Windsor. For more information, call (845) 561-1765, extension 22, or visit


Poughkeepsie Barnes & Noble hosts Bindlestick Bill, Skippyjon Jones this Sunday


I can sketch out for you an entire plan for this Sunday for all ages, and all in the same plaza in Poughkeepsie: Barnes & Noble; Giacomo’s Pizza for lunch; then Barnes & Noble again. On Sunday, May 27 at 10 a.m., head over to Barnes & Noble for some delightful listening, laughing and learning with Bindlestick Bill. He sings original songs, and between tunes, he likes to tell jokes and stories or even juggle. He might even have his sidekick Professor Sock-ra-tease with him: his super-smart sock monkey.

Then, after the show, Giacomo’s Pizza is down the parking lot. Have you been there in a while? I find it very easy to take my kids there, and they can even make their own personal pizzas, which is just adorable. There are other eateries in that same plaza, too, like the International House of Pancakes.

Finally, head back to Barnes & Noble for…wait…do you hear what I’m hearing? “My ears are too beeg for my head. My head ees too beeg for my body. I am not a Siamese cat…I am a Chihuahua!” If you recognize that bit, then you must know the Skippyjon Jones children’s books by Judy Schachner. Skippyjon Jones is coming to town – Poughkeepsie, in fact. Come to a special storytime at Barnes & Noble on Sunday, May 27 at 1 p.m. and meet Skippyjon Jones.

Both events are free and open to the public. Barnes & Noble is located at 2518 South Road in Poughkeepsie. For more information, call (845) 485-2224 or visit The restaurants I mentioned can be found online at and To learn more about the day’s entertainment, visit and


Railroad Playhouse in Newburgh presents “Aesop Bops” this Sunday


Aesop’s Fables were originally intended for adults, but now they hold a permanent place in our memories as children, such as “The Lion and the Mouse,” a classic Aesop tale. Until now, your family may have experienced them as bedtime stories. So how would you like to give your kids a chance to hear a professional storyteller retell them, with music and audience participation, too? “Railroad Playhouse Presents: Aesop Bops” features acclaimed storyteller David Gonzalez. “This feast of funky, physical storytelling leaves young audiences feeling like they had just performed the show too!”

“Aesop Bops” takes place on Sunday, May 27 at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $10. Railroad Playhouse is located at 27 South Water Street in Newburgh. Need lunch or a snack? You can get that right in the same building at Pizza-Shop! For tickets or for more information, call (845) 565-3791 or visit To learn more about the performer, visit To explore the pizza offerings, 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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