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Are We There Yet?: Gone To The Dogs

By Rebecca Dravis
iBerkshires Staff

"Peanuts" cartoonist Charles M. Schulz once wrote five very wise words: “Happiness is a warm puppy.” 

This Saturday, May 3, dogs take center stage at both ends of Berkshire County. 

First, in Williamstown, the annual Humane Race to benefit the Berkshire Humane Society starts at 10 a.m. on Water Street. Rain or shine (unfortunately, it's looking like rain, and no one ever said happiness is a wet puppy), this 12th annual 5K Fun Run and One Mile Walk - with or without your dog - will offer a day of outdoor entertainment for the entire family.  The race begins at 10 a.m., with check-in and race day registration starting at 8 a.m. Finish line festivities will include music, games, prizes and food booths. Race Day Registration is $20 for adults and $15 for children. To learn more about the event, visit www.humanerace.org.

Then, later in the day, people can come to the Mason Library in Great Barrington from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. to meet Jori, the Great Barrington police dog, and his officer, Tim Ullrich. Jori will do a sniffing demonstration, and show his knowledge of signals and commands. Jori, a German shepherd from Slovakia, became the town’s first K-9 officer in 2011. His arrival was truly a community affair: to bring Jori to town, the department raised $30,000 from 26 donors to pay for veterinary bills, retrofitting of one of the police vehicles and setting up a donation account to cover future costs.

If you're looking for something to do with the kids on Sunday, May 4, head to Dalton for the annual Dalton CRA May Day Race & Obstacles and Popsicles for Kids. A 5K and 10K race start at 9:30 a.m., but the fun for kids starts at 10:30 a.m. The race happens behind Nessacus Middle School; the kids do not go on any roads. Those 8 and under will run half a mile and those 9 to 12 will run a mile. The races include fun obstacles and all finishers get a ribbon and freeze pop; awards will be given to the top three boys and girls in each age group. The cost is $6.

And as we are winding down to the end of the school year, I wanted to share a link to a funny blog I read online about how the last few weeks of school feel for parents. Read it here and I hope you laugh as much as I did!

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.

     

Are We There Yet?: Hoppy Easter

By Rebecca Dravis
iBerkshires Staff

"I'm feeling hoppy," reads the cheerful poster hanging on the door to my daughter's bedroom. Fifty-one weeks of the year it doesn't make sense, but this week it does, as Easter is this Sunday, April 20.

Which means this weekend's family fun can be found in the form of Easter egg hunts in pretty much every corner of the county — including Pittsfield, despite that they have decided to take the word "Easter" out of their official egg hunt, which will be visited by "The Bunny." (What does THAT animal look like?)

But I don't want to get political in this column.

So for Saturday, April 19, here's what I know about.

Pittsfield's "eggstravaganza" is at 10:30 a.m. at Morningside Community School. In Williamstown there's a hunt from 1 to 3 p.m. at Williamstown Commons. In Great Barrington, Blue Rider Stables is having a hunt and other spring activities from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. In North Adams, there will be an egg hunt as part of the Bunny Run-Walk-Hop to End Homelessness at 10:30 a.m. And Lenox and Dalton have town hunts at 11 a.m., in Lenox at the Lenox Community Center and Dalton at the CRA. Clarksburg's is at 10 a.m. at the town field.

Want to do some good this weekend instead of wipe away tears when your kid doesn't find the golden egg? Because Easter this year comes near Earth Day, on Saturday, April 19, you can help clean up the Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk, Berkshire County’s National Recreation Trail. This year’s work season includes a variety of restoration techniques for River Walk’s severely abused river location, planting thousands of native plants propagated from seed collected locally, while ridding the riverbank of knotweed, bittersweet, garlic mustard, multiflora rose and other exotic-invasives. Volunteers should meet at the W. E. B. Du Bois River Garden Park by the former Searles Middle School parking lot on River Street, near Bridge Street, at 9 a.m. Morning coffee and lunch will be provided. Tours will be given in the afternoon.

In the evening in Williamstown, a half-dozen Williams College performing ensembles are teaming up to present "Raise the Roof!" a benefit for residents of the Spruces Mobile Home Park and others displaced by Tropical Storm Irene. The performers will include the Springstreeters, the Accidentals, Good Question, Ephoria and Far Eph. A bake sale will accompany the event, which starts at 7 p.m. in the Paresky Auditorium. There is no admission charge, but a hat will be passed during the performance.

Hoppy Easter ... and make sure to check out our calendar of events to find some vacation week fun, including a puppet show at the library in Williamstown on Tuesday and Touch A Truck on Wednesday in North Adams.

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires.com. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.

     

Are We There Yet?: Take Comfort in the Community

By Rebecca Dravis
iBerkshires Staff

When my daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2010 and then another rare autoimmune disease last fall, several well-meaning people said to me, "It could be worse. At least it's not cancer."

I know how much it hurts to hear that, because when you're in the middle of a personal crisis, it doesn't really matter if it could actually be worse. It's bad enough in that moment.

So I won't say that to the hundreds of people who have lost their jobs with the closure of North Adams Regional Hospital, and their families, who now face an incredibly uncertain future. I know they are all hurting right now. All I can do is offer some fun ways to encourage community spirit with the family.

So how about some puppets?

MCLA Presents! is offering up the latest event in its inaugural MCLA Puppet Fest this weekend. On Saturday, March 29, at 2 and 7 p.m., and Sunday, March 30, at 3 p.m., puppeteers Dan Froot and Dan Hurlin will perform "Who's Hungry" at the Puppet Lab at Gallery 107 at 107 Main St. in North Adams. "Who's Hungry" features an all-star cast of actors, dancers and puppeteers  following the lives of five hungry residents of Santa Monica, Calif., to weave elements of those five life stories into a 55-minute theatrical spectacle featuring a variety of puppetry styles, high velocity dancing and spirited music. The audience is seated before a 24-foot dinner table, which transforms into a runway-style puppet stage. Admission is $10 and the show is most appropriate for tweens and pre-teens.

Have younger kids? Consider a pajama movie night screening of "Frozen" at the Mason Library on Friday night, March 28, at 6:15 p.m. (My daughter and I just can't get enough of this music, especially the music ... though I wish I could sing with more conviction that "the cold never bothered my anyway.") Or on Saturday, March 29, take kids 5 and up to a bat house-making workshop at Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. From 1:30 to 3 p.m., Rene Laubach talk about bats in our area and their natural history before the workshop on building the house. The cost is $20 for adults and free for children; registration is required. Register by calling 413-637-0320. And on Sunday, March 30, Project Native will be showing the movie "Flight of the Butterflies" - in 3D! - at 10 a.m. at the Triplex Cinema in Great Barrington. Following the year-long annual migration cycle of the butterflies, the award-winning production team filmed hundreds of millions of monarchs in their remote overwintering sanctuaries in Mexico in 2011 and again in 2012 and also along their migratory routes from Canada, across the United States and into Mexico. How cool is that? Even cooler, admission is free.

One more thing to mention, if you're in the mood to help out those people who actually do have cancer: Moments House is hosting its fourth annual Slice of Life Pizza Competition at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 29, at the Crowne Plaza in Pittsfield. Come sample pizza from all over the county and vote on your favorites. Awards will be given to Best Crust, Best Sauce, Most Unique Pizza and Best Overall Pizza in Berkshire County. Adults are $25 at the door and children are $7 at the door (4 and under are free).

Take strength in the community right now. We're all in this together.

Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires. She can be reached at rdravis@iberkshires.com.

     

Are We There Yet?: Is It Spring Yet?

By Rebecca Dravis
Special to iBerkshires

Are you there, God? It's me, Rebecca.

Please God, don't make it snow on Monday. Or Tuesday. Or any other school day before July. And please God, don't make it so cold that even if it's not snowing it hurts to go outside. Or raining so that everything turns to ice. Or all of the above. All at once. It's New England, after all.

Everything that can be done in the house has been done. Kids are stir crazy and cranky. Parents are short­-tempered  and cranky. If I have to watch another ice-­dancing routine on my living room floor, I'll be completely twizzled. If I have to play another game of "Operation," I'll need to be hospitalized.

I know, God, there are a few fun things to to do this weekend. The "Ten Days of Fun" imagination extravaganza continues daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Sunday, Feb. 23, at the Berkshire Museum, which is also hosting Berkshire Theater Group's performance of "The Emperor's New Clothes" by Hans Christian Andersen at 11 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21 and 22 (berkshiremuseum.org). The play about a king who is so consumed with designer clothing that he thinks about nothing else in his kingdom sounds like fun, even though the only fashion I personally can wrap my head around right now is something, well, to wrap around my head. A hat. A scarf. Anything to keep the snow and rain and cold off of me.

Is there sleet in Heaven, God?

And I know, God, that there are two great (indoor) family fundraisers this weekend, and I do love a good cause, even though my favorite cause right now is Being OK With The 8­Year­Old Watching Eight Hours of Television Today, Tomorrow and the Next Day. Yes, we can go miniature golfing inside the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield on Saturday, Feb. 22, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to raise money for the Literacy Volunteers of Berkshire County (pittsfieldlibrary.org). And yes, we can go bowling at Greylock Bowl & Golf in North Adams on Sunday, Feb. 23, from 1 to 6 p.m. to raise money for Child Care of the Berkshires' Youth Mentoring Program (ccberkshire.org).

So I know, God, that's it's pretty selfish of me to complain that there's nothing to do and... That. We. Have. To. Get. These. Kids. Back. In. School.

Now.

Please!

Pretty please?

Surely, God, you can arrange so that spring come a little early to New England, can't you? I would really appreciate it.

From, your friend, Rebecca.

h the last few days of vacation!

Berkshire County native Rebecca Dravis of Williamstown is a former journalist who now works for the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts. She can be reached at rdravis@verizon.net.
     

Are We There Yet?: Start Vacation With Indoor, Outdoor Options

By Rebecca Dravis
Special to iBerkshires

Another week, another snow day — or maybe even two.

How fabulous, right before February vacation.

Happy Valentine's Day to us!

We're now facing 10 days of sheer boredom... or, how about 10 Days of Play? For the second year, the Berkshire Museum is transforming its Crane Room into anything a child might imagine, using readily available and recyclable materials from cardboard to fabric and tape. Presented in partnership with the Transition Team of Pittsfield and Pop­-Up Adventure Play, this is the epitome of child­-directed play, something pretty much everyone agrees that today's kids don't get enough of. Haven't you ever been tempted to just throw your kids into a room with no screens, just lots of random stuff, and see what they can come up with? Here's your chance!

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Feb. 14 through Feb. 23 and is free with museum admission. For more information, visit berkshiremuseum.org.

That is my definite stay-inside choice for the weekend and upcoming vacation week. But if you are game for going outside, consider a North County tradition: Winter Fest in downtown North Adams on Saturday, Feb. 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will feature ice sculpting, music, pony rides, a fun run/walk at 10:30 a.m., the annual Chowder Cook­-Off from noon to 2 p.m., horse­-drawn wagon rides and more. It's a fun day out for the whole family... even though the weather forecast right now shows a high of only 20 degrees. Or maybe the cold is a good thing for Winter Fest. It depends on how you look at it, I guess! For more details and a specific schedule of events, click here.

And if you're looking for more vacation week fun, beyond the Berkshire Museum, check out another area museum: the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. They are running drop-­in workshops in which all ages can explore how the art of Norman Rockwell, Ruth Sanderson, and Wendell Minor tell stories in pictures, and create artworks in mixed media that express their own ideas. These run from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and are free with museum admission. For more details, visit nrm.org.

Stay warm, stay sane ... and I'll be back next week with some ideas on making it through the last few days of vacation!

Berkshire County native Rebecca Dravis of Williamstown is a former journalist who now works for the Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts. She can be reached at rdravis@verizon.net.
     
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