Everything Is Awesome on a Legoland Vacation

BY  |  Wednesday, May 10, 2017 1:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

If the contents of your house are at least 10% Lego, then your Master Builders will love a family vacation to the Legoland hotel and theme park in Florida.

Located in Winter Haven, FL (a short drive from the Orlando and Tampa airports), Legoland is on the grounds of Cypress Gardens, one of the first amusement park resorts in the state. The Lego folks bought up the property, rebuilt it the Lego way, and now everything about it is designed to delight kids 3 to 9 who can’t get enough of the plastic-brick stuff.

The hotel states its intentions as clearly as possible: The entrance is a fantasia of giant Lego characters, the lobby has a castle play area surrounded by a moat filled with thousands of colored bricks, and the pool has large-scale floating Legos in it so kids don’t have to stop building even while they swim.

Each floor of the hotel has a different Lego theme (Adventure, Pirates, Friends, etc.), and there are insanely complicated Lego creations everywhere they could possibly be. When we got into our room, our son was immediately met with a set of puzzles that revealed the code for a small safe near his bed, and inside were Lego kits, juice boxes, and activity books.

Even the elevators are fun: once the doors close, disco lights switch on and snippets of songs like “Dancing Queen,” “YMCA,” and “The Hustle” keep you moving until you get to your floor.

The hotel also has a pretty good “Brick Restaurant” buffet and daily activities for kids to work on cool projects and show off what they’ve built. The resort isn’t fancy or luxurious, but it hits its target audience like a ton of brick fun.

Of course, the real attraction is just next door: Legoland amusement park. Like the hotel, it’s overstuffed with cool Lego fun, including rides, shows and attractions built around Ninjago, Lego City, Brickbeard the Pirate, and even Duplo areas for little kids. The park has lots of rollercoasters and other thrill rides, but none of them are too much for little kids (and in fact would bore older kids—we didn’t see a single teenager with any family in the park). For an extra fee, there’s a water-park section at the back with lots of splashes and slides and such to cool off in the Florida heat.

Even though it’s an amusement park, there’s still a strong focus on the bricks and the builds. The Imagination Zone has giant Duplo renditions of Albert Einstein and a giraffe outside, and all sorts of projects for kids who want to make cars, buildings, and other creations. And the large-scale Lego creations on view are pretty amazing: there’s a full-size Ford Mustang made of Lego, several detailed scenes from Star Wars movies (plus life-size Darth Vader and R2-D2), and Miniland USA, which features scaled-down re-creations of the Vegas Strip, Midtown Manhattan, the Kennedy Space Center, and more. It’s hard not to be amazed by the hundreds of thousands (or more?) of bricks that are painstakingly put together all over the park.

Yes, you’ll hear “Everything Is Awesome” too many times while you’re there. But Legoland is a fun and totally awesome Florida family vacation for Lego fans.

For more information about Legoland Florida, visit www.legoland.com/florida.

Fun with the Y’s Geyer Family Branch Wheel-A-Thon!

BY  |  Tuesday, May 09, 2017 2:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

The Geyer Family Branch of the YMCA of Montclair invites you to hit the pavement on Sunday, May 21 at the 1st Annual Ride For a Reason Wheel-A-Thon in support of the Y’s Annual Campaign. Children up to age six are invited to ask their friends and family to sponsor them. Bring your bikes, trikes, scooters or strollers! Continue Reading

Montclair Middle School Students Share At “Every Story Matters,” A Poetry Slam

BY  |  Monday, May 08, 2017 10:00am  |  COMMENTS (1)

Slam poetry is firmly taking root in Montclair among our middle school student population. For the past two years, Buzz Aldrin Middle School integrated this literary genre into its existing curriculum with comprehensive writing, editing and performance workshops created and led by Rich Villar, their critically-acclaimed poet-in-residence, secured with generous funding from both the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence (MFEE) and the Buzz Aldrin PTA.

The workshops prepared the students for the school’s second annual competition slam called ‘Every Story Matters.” Nearly 30 poets performed in front of four guest judges, including publisher Lauri Hornik, high school counselor Cory Jones, composer/lyricist and MSU professor Scott Davenport Richards, and writer/social worker Lauren Marie Schmidt, whose new poetry book ‘Filthy Labors’ launched at Watchung Booksellers this week.

New this year, the inaugural Montclair Literary Festival also held a juried poetry slam in March, inviting middle school students from across the district to compete on stage at the high school, with award-winning poet Vincent Toro headlining the program. Both 2017 slams culminated in a non-competitive showcase at the Free First Thursday Night soiree on May 4 at the Montclair Art Museum.

Thirteen poets, representing Buzz Aldrin, Glenfield and Renaissance across all three grades, confidently took to the stage to share their authentic and invigorating poems with the community. Mr. Villar, who generously donated his time and support at the emotionally-charged event, addressed the audience on the importance of poetry as an important pathway for learning. According to one 5th grader in attendance at the MAM event, “The poetry inspires you through their enthusiasm and also through the meaning and depth of their poems.” Sounds like a future slam poet is in our midst.

Photo: Peter Wert

Weekend Family Highlights: Free Comic Book Day, WBGO Kids Jazz Concert, The Little Prince

BY  |  Friday, May 05, 2017 10:30am  |  COMMENTS (0)

The weekend is here! There’s so much to do around town and beyond. Here’s a sampling of activities for the whole family.

First of all, check out the family-friendly films at the Montclair Film Festival this weekend.

On Saturday, don’t miss the North Fullerton Arts & Crafts Fair (10 am -t 5 p.m., 24 North Fullerton Ave. , Montclair). Community outdoor event with hands on crafts and live artists. Live music. Family friendly activities. Food trucks. Free Health Screenings. Face painting and much more.

Studio Playhouse (14 Alvin Place, Upper Montclair) will present The Stinky Cheese Man, and Other Fairly Stupid Tales on Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 PM and 3:30 PM. This is the final weekend. Narrator Jack tries to keep a wild group of storybook characters in line before total chaos or a song breaks out. This show is for adults and children of all ages. Tickets are $8 and are available online.

Saturday is Free Comic Book Day! Stop in to East Side Mags (7 South Fullerton Avenue, Montclair) for signings with guests, a raffle, and free comics! They’ll be opening early at 9:00 AM. Continue Reading

Sponsored: Best Summer Camps For Your Child

BY  |  Thursday, May 04, 2017 2:30pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

School is still in session, but summer is almost here. It’s never too early to start seeking out the best summer camps to send your kids to for an experience they’ll always remember.

Now more than ever, kids need a good summer camp where they can unplug and experience adventure, healthy fun, personal growth, friendships and make memories. If you’re looking for a great summer camp for your child, the YMCA of Montclair has 10 great camps to choose from for ages 3-15. Here is a sampling. To learn about all 10 camps and to register, click here. Continue Reading

Montclair BoE: Outcry Over First Choice Invite to Glenfield, Discussion of Homework Policy

BY  |  Thursday, May 04, 2017 8:00am  |  COMMENTS (3)

The Montclair Board of Education

A vote on a new homework policy, advocated at earlier meetings of the Montclair Board of Education, was overshadowed at the board’s May 3 meeting by a controversy over a sex education program that was almost introduced at one of the district’s middle schools.

Amy Huber, the executive director of First Choice Women’s Resource Centers, which provides specialized medical services for women, took to the podium in public comment to talk about her organization’s Real Talk program, which was started in 2000 to inform students of problems associated with unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases and promote “sexual risk avoidance.”  The program, Huber said, has been given in schools across several New Jersey counties to over 10,000 school students.

A few other women, who were seated with Huber in the audience, offered testimonials for the Real Talk program’s effectiveness.  None of them were Montclair residents, which unnerved board member Anne Mernin and made her question their right to speak.  Board President Jessica de Koninck said they could speak, as it was a public meeting.  Then, resident Sarah Blaine took to the podium to offer additional information on the subject. Continue Reading

Montclair and Whole Foods Market Poster Contest for Kids Who Love Art and Trees!

Wednesday, May 03, 2017 2:39pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Montclair kids in grades K through 5 can participate in an exciting poster contest in celebration of Arbor Day and our wonderful shade tree canopy. “If Trees Could Speak” invites children to create a poster depicting the benefit that trees provide for our community. This contest, co-sponsored by the Montclair Environmental Commission and Whole Foods Market Montclair, and supported by the Montclair Public Library, is running through May 8th. Continue Reading

Jazz House Kids WeBop Classes Are Back in Swing!

BY  |  Wednesday, May 03, 2017 10:30am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Jazz House Kids welcomes back WeBop®, a Jazz at Lincoln Center early-childhood jazz education program for children 18 months to five years. Held in the Jazz House studios in downtown Montclair, young children with their adults swing and strut to the rhythms of jazz as they learn about core concepts, instruments, and some of the great performers of jazz. Each class inspires creative learning and student participation with customized curriculum, creative movement, storytelling and live jazz music.

Jazz House Kids is now registering new and returning Weboppers and their adults for its spring session which begins May 7.
Class Schedule:

May 7- July 2, 2017
Sundays: 9:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. (ages 18 months- 3 years)
Sundays: 10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. (ages 3 years- 5 years)
Thursdays: 10:00 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. (ages 18 months- 3 years)

Tuition is $250, including the $10 registration fee. For more information and to register, call 973-744-2273 or email [email protected].

Jungle Boogie Event at YMCA of Montclair

BY  |  Monday, May 01, 2017 10:23am  |  COMMENTS (0)

Two fun fundraisers for the YMCA of Montclair by kids for kids. Please come out and help kids support the YMCA of Montclair’s Annual Campaign.

CANCELLED -Sleepover at the YMCA of Montclair

Join us for an overnight fundraiser. Kids are invited to spend the night (in tents that will be provided in the Park Street Branch gym) to raise money for youth scholarships to the YMCA of Montclair. Included are group games, gym free time, swimming, movies, snack, a “campfire” story and a light breakfast in the morning. For grades 4-7.

WHEN: May 6, 7:30pm to May 7, 8am (Register by May 4, 6pm)
LOCATION: YMCA OF MONTCLAIR, 25 Park Street, Montclair
COST: Members $50 Members/$60 Community; $30 Siblings

Jungle Boogie

Come party in the jungle! This special night at the YMCA of Montclair’s Geyer Family Branch run by the YMCA of Montclair’s teen Leaders’ Club will include a variety of fun activities including “snack making” and arts activities. Come dressed for a safari and bring your favorite stuffed animal! Parents are encouraged to return at 8:25pm to join their child for a “special event” in the big gym. For ages 4-9.

WHEN: May 12, 6:00pm – 9:00pm
LOCATION: YMCA OF MONTCLAIR Geyer Family Branch, 159 Glenridge Ave., Montclair
COST: $30 Member/$40 Community; $15 Additional Siblings

Weekend Family Highlights: Maisy, Pajama Day, Stinky Cheese Man and More!

BY  |  Friday, Apr 28, 2017 10:00am  |  COMMENTS (0)

The weekend is here! There’s so much to do around town and beyond. Here’s a sampling of activities for the whole family.

First of all, check out the family-friendly films at the Montclair Film Festival this weekend (and next!).


This weekend, Good Shepherd Academy (24 Brookline Avenue, Nutley) will present Beauty and the Beast, Jr. with three performances. This student production of the classic story is based on the original Broadway production and Disney’s animated film. Tickets are $5 for children and $10 for adults.


Studio Playhouse (14 Alvin Place, Upper Montclair) will present The Stinky Cheese Man, and Other Fairly Stupid Tales on Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 PM and 3:30 PM. Narrator Jack tries to keep a wild group of storybook characters in line before total chaos or a song breaks out. This show is for adults and children of all ages. Tickets are $8 and are available online.


In honor of Independent Bookstore Day, visit Watchung Booksellers (54 Fairfield Street, Montclair) for a special Saturday Morning Author/Illustrator Storytime at 10:30 AM. This week’s book is Maisy Goes to the Local Bookstore. When you purchase a book after storytime, your child can “pay” for the book (on a very special cash register!), get a “receipt” and redeem it for a Maisy cookie at Tiny Elephant. Continue Reading

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Another "ground-level basement" (to get around the building height rules)?!

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