The Nelson Memorial Library converted one of its programming rooms into a Chinese wonderland for the public to enjoy last week.
On July 25, the library’s fourth annual Summer Extravaganza — “Land of the Sleeping Dragon” — gave the public a fun way to close out the summer. Susan Huffman, branch manager, said they host the two hour event each year, with a different theme.
“Our children are going back to school and we wanted to do one big thing that includes all ages,” Huffman said.
Huffman, donning a red robe accented with gold, said the themes are usually thought of about a year in advance and after last year’s “Under the Sea” themed event, they decided it would be fun to visit China. The library staff worked on getting an event together that would celebrate Chinese culture and have something interactive for a wide spread of age ranges. The event included showing Disney’s Mulan and playing Mulan trivia, learning how to make paper flowers, and enjoying cupcakes decorated in red frosting and topped with little umbrellas.
The room was covered floor to ceiling with an assortment of decor to match the Land of the Sleeping Dragon theme. String lights hung around along the walls; soft music wafted throughout throughout the room, and attendees came face-to-face with a giant papier mâché dragon named Mai Ling, which hung from the ceiling by the door. Peggy Kerl, children’s specialist at the library, made the dragon with materials she had on hand and found throughout the library.
“It just came together. I worked on it on and off for about a week,” Kerl said.
Colorful umbrellas showing traditional Chinese designs were spread out on tables topped with red table cloths and paper lanterns of all colors covered the ceiling. In total, library staffed worked on transforming the room as time allowed for about two months. Huffman said the actual set up took three days.
“For me what really makes it is when the kids gasp as they walk into the room,” Kerl said.
Just before 3 p.m. on July 25, the first of about 15 kids began trickling in. Melissa Mattson brought her children to the event as she did last year.
“I bring them here because they love it,” Mattson said as her children sat on the floor in front of her.
Huffman started the event by playing Mulan before leading the kids through a quick tutorial on how to make a small paper flower. Paper was invented in China around 105 B.C. and after, Asian cultures like the Chinese and Japanese began the art of paper folding, known today as origami.
Huffman walked through how to make a tulip with the group of children as they eagerly folded paper. With almost every step, they got up to show off their work. Huffman patiently encouraged them before going back to the movie before enjoying the other events and snacks. Each child got to leave with a Chinese fortune cookie.
“I just love watching their faces,” Kerl said.
Erin Conway covers Nelson County for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5524.