Put on your party hat

Long Island Children's Museum celebrates a milestone birthday

Long Island Herald, November 16, 2018
by Maria Lane

It’s a party 25 years in the making. Long Island Children’s Museum is throwing an “Ultimate Birthday Bash” to celebrate its milestone “silver” birthday. Not just an ordinary birthday party, the museum brings its unique flair to the festivities.

There will be plenty of silver-themed excitement, on Nov. 17 and 18, with exhibits and activities that explore the traditions behind birthday celebrations around the world. The museum will even delve into the curious connection between silver and the number 25. (Yes there is a connection.)

“We’re showcasing our ‘best work’ for our 25th birthday,” explains Aimee Terzulli, the museum’s Director of Education and Visitor Experience.

“The weekend celebration lets visitors sample the range of experiences and array of subjects that the museum has provided to the community over the years. Museum staff and volunteers have been planning the event for about a year. Every department is really excited and proud to be part of this community.”

Some of the current employees actually came to the museum when they were children. Terzulli herself started as a college intern in the early days.

“I never intended to stay in the museum field,” she says. “But I fell in love with this type of information education. I’ve never been bored in the 25 years I’ve been here.”

All events during birthday weekend are, of course, designed to be entertaining with that strong learning twist that’s the core of all LICM programming. “It blends the best of what we do here at the museum,” Terzulli explains.

For instance, visitors can make crazy silver soiree hats and in the process learn where the tradition of wearing crowns came from. They’ll get instruction on how to make marbleized wrapping paper, and find out what’s behind the tradition of wrapping gifts.

The celebration is packed with activities and programming: jugglers, clowns, and plenty of music to rock out to, including a DJ and a traditional Korean marching band with drums. And when those hunger pangs strike, three food trucks will serve kid favorites — pizza, tacos and ice cream.

Bassist Danny Weinkauf makes a special appearance on the LICM stage with his Red Pants Band.

Weinkauf is well known as the frontman for They Might Be Giants, which has been making music for 36 years and counting. In fact the band, which recently released its 20th album, just finished up touring throughout the U.S., Europe and Canada. The busy musician is also focused on Red Pants, which has developed a loyal following with young families and educators.

At live performances, the band wears red pants — hence the band name — and they also frequently switch around the instruments that they play

Red Pants just released its latest album “Inside I Shine.” Weinkauf recorded all the songs in the basement studio of his Lynbrook home. The band comprises Weinkauf (guitar, vocals), Tina Kenny Jones (bass, vocals), Steve Plesnarski (drums) and newcomer Russ Jones (guitar). Weinkauf recorded most of the music and vocals, with participation from Kenny Jones and Weinkauf’s wife, Michelle.

The band is familiar to museum visitors, frequently performing there, and holds a special place in the lives of Weinkauf and his family.

“I used to bring my children here when they were little,” says Weinkauf. “It sparked their curiosity. And as parents we learned things as well.” His kids especially enjoyed the Bubble Area and the Chunky Maze.

“When our kids were little, it seemed enormous as we tried to keep track of them. Now I think it’s not as big as I remember it.”

Noting his fondness for the museum, Weinkauf says he was thrilled when the Red Pants Band was asked to perform at the festivities.

“The timing worked out great since I just finished the tour with They Must Be Giants,” he says. “Plus the Red Pants Band just released our fourth album, which has songs geared toward pre-school and kindergarten age kids.”

The band will perform songs from the new album including “Pumpkin” (currently number two on the popular SiriusXM’s Kids Place Live) and a rock version of the Sesame Street Song “I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon.”

“The staff is really creative and supportive,” Weinkauf adds.

That sentiment is reflected in the decision to include two visual artists —Mica Angela Hendricks and Brooks Frederick — in the festivities. They’ll work together with the visitors to create a 25-square foot collaborative painting, which will be displayed permanently in the museum when completed.

Looking ahead to the next 25 years, “we hope to continue to be a beacon to the community and have people see us as a resource,” says Terzulli. “I hate to admit it but we know we’ve had a really great day when we see toddlers crying, because they don’t want to leave the museum. That’s when we know we’ve done a good job.”

The birthday celebration kicks off 25 weeks of special events and themed workshops highlighting the museum’s 25-year history.