February Festivities to feature magic, mad science and maple sugaring

The McCaster family of Plainfield enjoy toasting marshmallows and drinking cocoa around a warm campfire after searching for signs of winter on a Winter Walk Scavenger Hunt during Trailside Nature & Science Center’s annual February Festivities event last year. This year, programs will be offered on Saturday, Feb. 17. Trailside Nature and Science Center is located at 452 New Providence Road and is a service of the Union County Board of County Commissioners.

UNION COUNTY, NJ — The Union County Board of County Commissioners invites families to visit Union County’s Trailside Nature and Science Center in Mountainside on Saturday, Feb. 17, for its annual “February Festivities” — a winter series of indoor and outdoor family fun programs taking place during President’s Day Weekend.

“We are pleased to provide an enriching variety of programs that are both educational and entertaining for residents of all ages, all taking place in the scenic Watchung Reservation,” said Commissioner Chairperson Kimberly Palmieri-Mouded. “In addition to special events like ‘February Festivities,’ Trailside is open all year long for visitors to enjoy nature exhibits and take part in seasonal programming. I welcome all families to join us for a memorable winter day.”

This year, the February Festivities will include:

• 10 a.m. or 12:15 p.m. – Journey of Sap to Syrup: Visitors will see how real maple syrup is made, from the sap of a sugar maple tree. Find out what equipment is needed to collect sap and take part in a taste test to see if you can identify the real thing. Weather-appropriate dressing is strongly encouraged.

• 11:15 a.m. – Hocus Pocus Magic Show: Adults and children can enjoy a performance filled with magic, audience participation, comedy and excitement in this live show featuring Joe Fischer. No strollers are allowed in the auditorium.

• 1:30 p.m. – Mad Science Winter Chills and Thrills Matinee: A series of winter-themed experiments, including winter egg trolls, special science paper, dry ice experiments and more.

• 2:30 p.m. – Winter Walk Scavenger Hunt – Investigate the winter woods for buck rubs, bird nests and bright, red berries. Visitors will warm up around a campfire with hot chocolate and marshmallows as we review our wintry findings.

The programs are recommended for families with children ages four and older. Pre-registration is required for all sessions. To register, visit ucnj.org/trailside-nature-and-science-center and follow the link to Union County’s secure online registration page. The fee per person, per program is $8 for Union County residents and $10 for non-county residents.

Aside from special programs and events, Trailside welcomes all visitors free of charge every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., except for Mondays and major holidays.

Trailside will be closed on Monday, Feb. 19, in observance of President’s Day.

For more details about “February Festivities” and other upcoming programs at Trailside, visit ucnj.org/trailside-nature-and-science-center/ or call 908-789-3670.

For quick links to all Union County environmental programs and activities, visit the Green Connection at ucnj.org/green-connection For more information about activities and programs of the Union County Department of Parks and Recreation, visit online at ucnj.org/parks, email [email protected] or call 908-527-4900.

Photo Courtesy of Kelly Martins