‘Snow Days’ draws hundreds to Children’s Museum of Sonoma County

Hundreds of children played in snow at the museum, with more expected Sunday and Monday.|

Snow Days at the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County

Continues Sunday and Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the general public, and starting at 9 a.m. for museum members. The general entrance fee is $15 each for both children and adults.

Four-year-old Drew Cohen hopped off a plastic disc at the bottom of the “toboggan run” and announced, “I want to go again.”

Up he scampered, clad in black boots and sky blue snow pants, to the top of a short run of snow set up Saturday at the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County. Hundreds of children played there throughout the day, with more expected today and Monday.

Young ones smiled, while parents declared the museum’s “Snow Days” a great way for little ones to experience the cold white stuff, often for the first time.

“It’s perfect for small children,” said Tristen Hunter of Ukiah. “It’s not overwhelming.”

Hunter’s 2-year-old son, Daniel Felix, played in the snow Saturday for the first time. The child rode down the toboggan run separately with his mom, aunt and grandmother.

Saturday was the second year for the event. The first Snow Days drew roughly 2,000 people each day, in part because the museum’s members received free admission.

“We were completely taken off guard,” recalled museum CEO Collette Michaud. “We weren’t expecting that kind of crowd.”

Attendance may be slightly lower for this year’s fundraiser because both members and the general public now must pay an entrance fee, she said. But those who turn out can enjoy more snow and a new feature in the toboggan runs.

“We brought in twice as much snow this year,” Michaud said.

On Saturday morning, 40 tons of ice arrived on a semi truck from the East Bay. Workers placed the ice inside a special chipping machine to turn it into snow at the back of the museum property. Then they divided their supply, spreading some on the ground beneath a large white tent and using the rest to build the toboggan run - with four adjacent tracks and a length of about 50 feet.

Parents and children lined up for turns in both areas. On the toboggan run, they used red or yellow discs and red plastic sleds to glide down a small hill. Inside the snow tent, a few made tiny snowmen while others threw snow, either at family and friends or at two black hula hoops hung as targets along a tent wall.

When not participating, adults stood in the mild sunshine behind a line of straw bales and took photos.

Daniel Felix’s grandmother, Melinda Hunter of Redwood Valley, said about 10 family members took part in the snow day. The best part, she said, was “the smiles on their faces.”

When Drew Cohen finished at the toboggan run, his parents, Kelli and Mike Cohen of Hayward, helped him out of his snow pants and boots so he could explore the inside of the museum. One of his favorite parts was Weblandia, a weblike jungle gym with sheets of plastic packing material used to make interior tunnels.

Kelli Cohen said Saturday was the first anniversary of adopting Drew as their son, and the parents wanted to do something special to celebrate it. With them they brought 3-year-old Josh, a foster child they recently began caring for, and Mike’s parents, Susan Million and Ralph Cohen, who are living temporarily in Alexander Valley after their home burned in last fall’s wildfires in Fountaingrove.

Susan Million said she has taken several young grandchildren to the museum and all found things to do, regardless of age.

“There’s a lot to keep them busy and exert a lot of energy,” she said.

More ice will arrive today and Monday for the snow area, as will new volunteers. About 24 were on hand Saturday, Michaud said, as well as 15 staff members.

When the parking lot filled, visitors parked at the Coddingtown shopping center and received free shuttle rides on Pure Luxury buses to the museum on West Steele Lane, just west of the Charles M. Schulz Museum.

You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 707-521-5285 or robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @rdigit.

Snow Days at the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County

Continues Sunday and Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the general public, and starting at 9 a.m. for museum members. The general entrance fee is $15 each for both children and adults.

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