Kids get prehistoric for Dino Day at French Creek Nature Center

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Dinosaur fans gathered for an afternoon of thunder lizard excitement Jan. 8 at the French Creek Nature Center in Lorain County Metro Parks.

Dino Day sold out as families went out for a scavenger hunt, crafts with coloring, music, videos and a chance to meet Kitty, the park district’s resident Tyrannosaurus rex baby.

Will Potts, the paleontology expert of the day and leading dinosaur handler, warmed up the crowd with trivia and prizes. His questions explained the differences between dinosaur species and between herbivores, or plant eaters, and carnivores, meat eaters.

It featured the show’s star carnivore – Kitty, a reproduction of a T-rex who, even as a juvenile, was larger than Potts.

Kitty has some serious teeth, but was docile enough to have a lucky volunteer feed her a steak.

Brittany Laseke of Elyria holds her nephew, Jackson Morton, 9 months, as her nephew Michael Morton, 2, works on a craft during the Dino Day activity on January 8, 2022 at the Lorain County Metro Parks French Creek Nature Center in SheffieldVillage. (Richard Payerchin – The morning newspaper)

“Working with our staff to put on this show is really fun because I’m a theater person and that’s what I do, so planning is always fun because you can anticipate, like, oh now kids are going to scream and then that’s when you say that,” Moran said with a laugh.

Attendees scattered around the nature center and were asked to wear masks due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Brittany Laseke of Elyria holds her nephews, Michael Morton, 2, and Jackson Morton, 9 months, for a portrait with Kitty, the resident baby Tyrannosaurus rex of Lorain County Metro Parks, during Dino Day activity on January 8, 2022 at the French Creek Nature Center in Sheffield Village. Will Potts watches, portraying the chief paleontologist and dinosaur trainer. (Richard Payerchin – The morning newspaper)

But COVID-19 didn’t seem to scare off dinosaur fans. After the start of the new year, enrollment skyrocketed, said Erin Moran, cultural arts and nature programmer at the center, 4530 Colorado Ave., Sheffield Village.

The program sold out 125 reservations and had a waiting list of 90 people, so Moran predicted the park district would have another Dino Day in the future.

“I think we have to do it,” Moran said. “With 90 people on the waiting list, I think it’s fair to offer it soon and again so those people get

Michael Morton, 2, works on a craft under the watchful eye of his grandmother, Tina LaPlante, during the Dino Day activity on January 8, 2022 at Lorain County Metro Parks French Creek Nature Center in Sheffield Village. The program sold out with 125 reservations and 90 on the waiting list for an afternoon of dinosaur adventures. (Richard Payerchin – The morning newspaper)

a chance. I hate to think we have to turn people away today, but we can’t accommodate that many, so I’d like to do it again soon so people have another chance.

Brittany and David Laseke of Elyria dated Brittany’s mother, Tina LaPlante, and their nephews, Michael Morton, 2, and Jackson Morton, 9 months, LaPlante’s grandsons. The boys wore matching tracksuits printed with dinosaurs, which were late 2021 Christmas gifts.

It was the family’s first venture to the French Creek Nature Center for a program. “It’s funny. Michael likes it,” Brittany Laseke said.

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