Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007

An arts park children can enjoy

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Courtesy of Bruce Douglas⁄Adventure Theater
‘‘Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse” was performed at the Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo Park last winter.
Glen Echo Park may no longer be an amusement park, but it still has many amusing and educational ways to while away the waning summer hours.

Many of Glen Echo’s art-centered activities require registration. However, aspects of the park can be enjoyed on a spur-of-the-moment trip, though that may take a little luck.

‘‘[What’s available] varies depending on the season and the day,” said Meredith Forster, the park’s education program manager.

Performances at the Adventure Theater, a children’s theater, and Puppet Company are held on weekends and several times during the week.

‘‘It’s preferable for folks to call ahead [for reservations] but it’s not essential,” Forster said.

A fairly recent innovation by the Puppet Company Playhouse is Tiny Tot Tuesdays, which introduces young children (up to age 4) to the small stage in less than an hour. The lights are left on, the doors open, and the puppeteers show the strings behind the magic in demonstrations for children.

‘‘It’s less intimidating and kind of gives them a taste of the theater,” Forster said.

Upcoming shows are scheduled for Sept. 11 and 25.

The park is well known for its art classes and working studios in media ranging from painting, ceramics and glass, to photography, ballroom dancing and calligraphy. Registration is preferred for classes and workshops but some will allow signing up ‘‘at the door,” Forster said.

This is especially true of the dance classes. A monthly family dance is held. Weekend visitors can also observe artists at work and tour ever-changing galleries and exhibits.

‘‘Most weekends there’s something,” Forster said.

Elsewhere in the park, Discovery Creek Children’s Museum offers environmental education for children each weekend with live animals, instructor-led hikes, immersion exhibits and other programs.

For those looking for a less-cerebral visit to the park, the Dentzel Carousel, playground and picnic areas are available.

The carousel, installed in 1921, operates even in rain as long as there is no lightning. The ride features 54 beautifully colored animals and chariots in three rows — two moving and one stationary.

The fun doesn’t stop when you leave the park. Across the parking lot, the Clara Barton National Historic Site is open for tours. The tours and parking are both free. Barton was a Civil War nurse and president of the American Red Cross who lived in Glen Echo for the last 15 years of her life.

Glen Echo Park

The Dentzel Carousel operates 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Friday and noon to 6 p.m. weekends only starting in September. Tickets are $1 and are required for all riders.

Discovery Center Children’s Museum of Washington is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every weekend. Admission is $5, $3 for seniors and free for members and children under 2.

For more information about activities in the park visit;;; and