I took some time out from my walk to run an event for the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library which is located in Lodi, NJ. I started to get involved in the Friends group last September and that has lead to many interesting visits from celebrities and athletes. Our latest guest helped us welcome in the first day of Spring (which ironically came after a snow storm the day before in which the heat melted all the snow before the event). His name was ‘Lodi Larry, the Rabbit’ and his home is the Bergen County Zoo.
The event was in response to our version of ‘Groundhog’s Day’, when we could not find a groundhog anywhere in Bergen County, NJ. Not one zoo or natural center had one. So when I approached a friend of mine who works at the zoo about one and she could not find one, she suggested the rabbit that they use for children’s events. With that in mind and not wanting to get caught in a snow storm for the event, we moved the event to the first day of Spring with the theme “Lodi Larry comes to the Library”.
Members of the Lodi community on the “First Day of Spring Event”
I was supposed to have only 25 children and their parents but word got out and we ended up with almost 40 children and almost 50 parents and grandparents. This was the first of the three events that I ran for the library since I joined that was a complete sell-out and then some. It was nice to see kids of all ages out to hear the program and participate in the question and answer session.
The only big problem we had was one of the volunteers from the zoo. The program was called “Lodi Larry comes to the Library on the First Day of Spring”. She got up and said, “I don’t know about the rabbit being from Lodi, but this rabbit’s name is Roger, not Larry.” Then she proceeded on with the event. If ever there was a time that someone screwed up, it was then. I was lucky that no one really noticed and the kids and parents had such a good time for the two programs that it was forgotten. I pulled her aside later and explained everything in detail about the program.
The Bergen County Zoo staff with the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library 2016
Outside that little mishap, the programs went off without a hitch. Our first event was a program called ‘Wild & Crafty Animal Tales’, where the kids listened to the story “Make room for the Bunny” and then did a bunny craft. After that the kids got in line to meet the rabbit. That was a big deal for all the small kids. The rabbit seemed very happy with the kids and did not make a fuss. All the kids seemed to enjoy petting the rabbit.
Then our second program “In My Backyard”, took place right after the first program. The theme was that the zoo is a great place to see exotic animals but children can see wild animals every day right in their own backyards. The program induced children to identifying and safely observing New Jersey’s wildlife. Here the kids got to see a real turtle, something that has become very rare in the wilds of New Jersey. I was amazed on how children were so excited on seeing a turtle.
After both programs were over, we had a question and answer time with the staff from the zoo. Some of the questions these kids had were so observant and interesting. So much for the theory that kids today are obsessed with their cellphones. Put a turtle or a rabbit in front of them and they are no different then we were in the 70’s and 80’s.
When the question and answers were over, we had a really nice reception that was catered by our local ShopRite supermarket. Everyone was really impressed with the food. We had a six foot Italian sub that was cut into pieces for us, five pounds of Italian cookies, five pounds of cut fruit, bags of salty snacks and assorted water and juices. I have never seen such a reaction to food before. The site of a colorful buffet of refreshments really brought out the excitement of people. They formed two lines and when I am saying there was not a crumb left of food, there was nothing left. The platters were stripped clean. I was happy that there were no leftovers.
Special Events Chair Justin Watrel of “The Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library”
People left and they were all saying that they had a good time. The kids loved their little crafts and clean up was so easy because they brought everything home. Its nice to see a crowd of happy faces leaving the library and hopefully this starts a trend of very successful programming.
I wanted to send a big ‘thank you’ to Mayor Emil Carafa and the entire Lodi Borough Council for their support, Superintendent of School’s Frank Quatrone for all his help getting the word out to the schools, the Lodi Boys & Girls Club, the Lodi Senior Club, Library Director Siobhan Koch and her staff for the filming of the program, picture taking and for helping with the reservations. A big ‘thank you’ to the Lodi Memorial Library’s Library Board and a another big ‘thank you’ to Friends President Judy Schroeder, Treasurer Edith Witte and Board Member Marilyn De Molli for all of their assistance on the event plus all the support from the Friends of the Lodi Memorial Library.
Now back to the ‘Walk in Manhattan’.
Enjoy this three part video of the event at the Lodi Memorial Library. It would have been one solid video but one the volunteers made a serious boo-boo during the event:
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