Blue Ridge Children’s Museum kicked off the season of lights early.
The museum held its annual Fall Lantern Walk for the first time in two years on Nov. 12 to raise money for a building so it can officially open.
“Being outside just allows the community to come together, be around another and be around other children and families and just talk,” said Karen Orlando, founder of Blue Ridge Children’s Museum.
Before the lantern walk, kids and their families met at the museum’s playground in the late cloudy afternoon. Up to five kids were at the lantern-making station while other kids were making arts and crafts with Waynesboro Parks and Recreation or playing in the playground with their parents.
“It’s been awesome, but just getting back to normalcy is really good,” said Adam Surface, a Waynesboro local who came to the event with his family and twin daughters, Raylan and Brinley.
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After making paper lanterns, children and their families celebrated the fall season, walking the Greenway in downtown Waynesboro and lighting up the night.
“We love that the Blue Ridge Children’s Museum is doing a lot of fun and entertaining arts and crafts for kids, and just an event we can get out and be outside before it gets too cold,” said Megan Kosowitz, who attended the event with her two sons, Odin and Archer, and other close relatives.
The Blue Ridge Children’s Museum’s interior was supposed to be renovated in early 2020, but because of COVID-19, all projects had to be put on hold. The inside is off-limits to the public, as it serves as a storage for exhibits and activities to be built. Instead, the museum focused on building the playground, where most outdoor activities would be held.
“We’re just trying to get as many activities for kids and families out there as much as we possibly can, with or without a building,” Orlando said.
Orlando said they have raised over $75,000, but more funding is needed. Since inflation has made supplies costs higher, the museum would need to reach the goal of $250,000 to renovate, hire and pay staff to operate the building.
“We’re just going to do a lot of community outreach, seeking out some of the bigger donors, and then, every dime that people give help,” she said. “$5, $500, or $5,000, whatever people can give, will get us open as soon as possible.”
With the Fall Lantern Walk turnout more significant than expected, Orlando hopes the fall event will grow next year.
“We’re making it our signature Waynesboro family event after the daylight saving time change,” Orlando said. “When it gets darker, we’ll make the most of that.”