Kids and art invade downtown

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By Erika Perez

By Erika Perez

Downtown was pretty empty, as would be expected at 12:30 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon.

Walking around the corner onto Mission Inn Avenue, tents at various venues, were being set up by volunteers for the day’s activities. By one o’clock downtown was no longer empty and the last “First Sundays” of the season was in full swing.

The “First Sundays” event is a free program intended mainly for families with children. Visitors can take advantage of the many hands-on activities offered at various museums and the main public library. The program runs from October to May and is located in downtown Riverside.

“First Sundays” is organized by the Riverside Cultural Consortium. The consortium, according to their Web site, is “a collaboration of community organizations working together to raise the profile of arts and culture in Riverside through shared resources, networking and joint programming.”

The first venue of the day, Captain Carl’s Mobile Tide pool was already overflowing with visitors.

The mobile tide pool was filled with over 20 different species of ocean creatures including an octopus and a small horned shark. Kids, from toddlers to teens, took pleasure in touching and holding the different creatures while Captain Carl shared his knowledge with the crowd. It was a crowd pleasing activity as evidenced by the large, constant crowds throughout the afternoon.

Six more downtown venues participated in this event; Riverside Public Library, with two booths, Mission Inn Museum, UCR Sweeny Art Gallery and California Museum of Photography, Riverside Art Museum and the First Congregational church of Riverside.

Various other activities were featured at the different venues including storytelling, puppet making, crafting a patriotic themed project, designing a printed tote bag, being a musician for the day and even creating a personalized “glamour” hairbrush. All these activities were there along with the usual exhibits and everyday activities of each venue.

Marilyn Morris, Chair of Education for the Cultural Consortium, estimates attendance for the event at about 200 or a little higher gauging from the attendance to the library activities.

“Some of the other venues might get more or less traffic depending on where they are located and the month’s activity,” she said.

This month’s attendance seemed to be higher probably because of the RMM mobile tide pool, according to Marilyn.

“If students are interested in volunteering they may contact each separate venue to inquire,” she said, “this is a great free activity for anyone with children to attend. Whether it’s your child, a niece or nephew, younger brother or sister, or even a young neighbor. The hands-on activities can be enjoyed by all.”

The season starts up again this October and all event information can be found on the Web sites for the Cultural Consortium or any of the participating venues.

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