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Families Have Fun While Learning about Nature at After Dark in the Park Fall Festival
By Kimberly Idrogo
Posted on October 11, 2017, October 11, 2017

As the sun began to set last Friday afternoon, hayrides filled with princesses, pirates, super heroes and other costumed children made their way to the lighted nature trails of River Legacy Foundation's 21st annual After Dark in the Park Fall Festival.

At the start of the Nature at Night Trail, kids had a chance to choose among temporary tattoos featuring colorful cartoon snakes, butterflies and other creatures. Learning opportunities then followed with an up-close look of some of nature's creepy crawlers, a game to demonstrate the importance of conserving water and an activity where children could recreate the paw tracks of an opossum, fox or a bobcat.

"My kids love coming to After Dark in the Park every year in their costumes to choose their pumpkin at the pumpkin patch and play games," said Arlington resident Shelby Cruz, who brought her three kids. "This festival gives my kids something to look forward to every year in the fall."

After Dark in the Park, which was held October 6 through 8, is one of four fundraisers that support environmental education programs at River Legacy Living Science Center and River Legacy Parks, said Kristi Payne, marketing coordinator for the River Legacy Foundation and Living Science Center. This year's festival raised more than $45,000, Payne said.

The children's games and craft activities, geared for children ages 2 to 10, were created by one of the original Nature School's teachers based on the center's nature curriculum, Payne said. Activities included a pumpkin roll maze, karaoke, a children's craft area, a pumpkin patch, storytelling with animal encounters, camping expo and much more.

"These fundraisers wouldn't be offered if it wasn't for our sponsors, volunteers and community partners who provide the necessary support to offer these events for the community to enjoy," Payne said.

One of the festival's goals is to introduce families to the unique environmental education programs offered at the center.

"The more exposure children have to nature, the more knowledge they'll have about planet earth and our ecosystem as they get older," Kennedale resident Matthew Carter said after visiting the Arlington Water Utilities' "Wasting Water is Scary" conservation activity with his wife and son.

After hearing about After Dark in the Park from their friends, the Carters said they enjoyed their first time at the festival and plan to return next year.

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