La Brea Tar Pits were rocked June 10 when The Kids Rock! Music and Eco Fest
returned to Hancock Park. The FREE event
hosted by The Children’s Nature Institute (CNI), and Natural History Museum of
Los Angeles County (NHM) brought nature to the city, as many of our LA
residents scarcely travel outside a 10-mile radius.
CNI Executive Director
Kelly Decker says of the festival, “It’s a way to get people away from their
computers, out of their cars and into nature, or better still, a way to bring
nature to them."
attendees got into it, too. Kids took going green quite literally, rolling
down one of the large, grassy hills at the park, with the playful music of The Verve Pipe, Randy Kaplan, and Rhythm
Child wafting through the air. Children
and parents played and danced together, enjoying some outside time while taking
in the attractions offered at the festival.
species of animals were available for families to see, touch, and even hold, provided
by the Children’s Nature Institute Wonder Mobile, and Nature Discovery Program,
as well as the Southern California Arachnid, Bug, and Invertebrate Society
(SCABIES), and Herpetologists Society. And
if seeing a crocodile monitor, or giant millipede up close, and personal isn’t
enough, there were always the eco-arts booths, dino dig, and face painting.
truck cuisine graced the event as well.
Kogi Truck, Let’s Be Frank, Deano’s Deli Truck, and The After School
Special Truck were some of the nutritious and delicious food options filling
the air with great smells, and tummies with great food.
were entranced by the beauty and grace of the NHM Bug Performers. Kids were able to get acquainted with a giant
praying mantis, or even a very tall butterfly walking around the winding paths on
stilts. His assistant handed children
bouquets of flowers, so that the butterfly could drink nectar using his tongue.
Kids loved playing along, clearly recognizing the tongue as being a curled party whistle just like the ones they have
played with at birthday parties.
Burrows, Program Manager at the Natural History Museum shared that Kids Rock!
serves in part as a finale to the Sustainable Sundays program they offer on
site at the museum from January through May.
And Esperanza, the NHM Exhibit Volunteer of the Year award winner was
quick to promote upcoming NHM activities such as the Butterfly Pavilion running
now through Labor Day, and the Spider Pavilion which follows, running from
September through mid-November.
Affordably priced at $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and students, and $1
for children 12 and under, NHM shows their commitment to being available to the
community by offering creative, educational programs at prices families can
Rock! also serves as a major fundraiser for the Children’s Nature
Institute. Providing services for 10,000
kids a year through their Nature Discovery Program, CNI is able to keep
themselves affordable for the children of limited economic means by donations,
and the funds raised at this event.
Rock! attracts an estimated 5,000 people each year. Event partners, sponsors, volunteers, and eco
and kid friendly vendors offer ideas and alternative options, for a healthy,
and environmentally responsible way of life.
Every booth at the event was chosen because of their commitment to
provide child friendly options and ideas that offer alternatives to some more
traditional family favorites.
the elements of air, fire, earth and water, one was left to question why it is
that music isn’t included as an
element. KC Mancebo of Clamorhouse Kids
provided the entertainment, bringing a powerful vibe. Kids were excited to see some familiar film
and television actors such as Zach Callison, Skai Jackson, and Zachary Rice
serving as masters of ceremony for the music talent. Mancebo feels strongly, along with Briana
Burrows of NHM, and Kelly Decker of CNI, about the mission to get kids outside
and connected with nature.
popular attraction at the festival offering hands-on exploration was one
provided by Los Angeles City Planner James Rojas. Offering a table for children containing
random objects such as game trophies, shampoo bottles, building blocks, and
even rocket ships, children were encouraged to select pieces that seemed interesting
to them, and then assign the objects as pretend buildings, so that they could
design their own city.
said, “I like to get people engaged in community planning by using random
objects. People can learn by touch. Planners use abstract words that get lost and
don’t translate with most people. I make
the concept tangible.” Just then, a
little boy who used one of the rockets as a sky rise decided it was time for
lift-off, and the building took off into outer space. Through the imagination of the young ones
come a new way of life. We mused that
perhaps this was the way of the future.
Through their play, seeds are being planted for social responsibility,
even in things such as how a community could better serve the people.
The synergy CNI and NHM bring
to Kids Rock! offer the community something that is unique, and special. Both the Children’s Nature Institute, and the
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County provide continuous events and
activities for the community throughout the year. But, even with a filled roster of events,
they spend many hours yearlong, planning Kids Rock! for the next year. It’s a labor of love, and well worth the hard
work, as 5,000 people go home after the event with an awareness and
understanding of nature, their community, and a perspective they might not
otherwise find in the middle of the city if they’re not taught to look.
You might want to save the
date. It’s rumored that Kids Rock! will
be the weekend before Father’s Day next year, and it will be a bash,
celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Natural History Museum of
Los Angeles county. The time and
location will be included on the calendar of events in both the Children’s
Nature Institute Website, as well as the Website of the Natural History Museum.
Natural History Museum of
Los Angeles County www.nhm.org
James Rojas, Los Angeles
City Planner www.placeit.org