Monday, September 17, 2018

Illustrating Community: Drawn Together at Fairyland

By C.J. Hirschfield

Here at Fairyland, we love it when our various worlds collide. Or overlap. Or meld.

At our popular Turn the Page! children’s book festival, held in May, we got to know some fantastically talented artists and illustrators. Now six of them -- Wednesday Kirwan, Elisa Kleven, Michael Slack, Simone Shin, Emily Dove and Michael Wertz – will be joining us on Friday, Sept. 28, for our annual Drawn Together arts event, a grownups-only, after-hours celebration of local art and artists.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Math and Science ... at Fairyland!

By C.J. Hirschfield

This Friday, Children’s Fairyland will partner with local businesses to promote STEM learning (science, technology, engineering and math) to our community’s youngest kids: the pre-K crowd.

No, we won’t be waving math flashcards or displaying charts of the periodic table. Because this is Fairyland, and we’re all about fun, we’ll be doing things a little differently. 

Monday, August 27, 2018

On the Freeway of Love

By C.J. Hirschfield

You’ve probably heard this inspirational quote: Life is measured not by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

I recently had a moment that took my breath away, and I wanted to share the experience with you.

Monday, August 20, 2018

A 'Kindred Spirit' Comes to Fairyland's Puppet Fair

By C.J. Hirschfield

The Storybook Puppet Theater at Children’s Fairyland, which raised its curtain in 1956, is the longest continuously operating puppet theater in America. But the Bob Baker Marionette Theater in Los Angeles has been around nearly as long: since 1963. We are both revered institutions in our respective cities. And now, Fairyland is proud to welcome a representative of the Bob Baker Marionettes to our annual Puppet Fair on August 25 and 26.

Bob Baker (1924–2014) began training at age 8 with several puppet companies before he gave his first professional performance. In high school, he began manufacturing marionettes, which he sold in the U.S. and Europe. By the time he was an adult, his puppetry was featured in many TV series and in films such as Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. He also provided a place of learning for puppeteers, including Fairyland’s own master puppeteer Randal Metz, who studied with him for three years in the 1980s.

Bob Baker (left) with partner Alton Wood and "birthday dog" puppets. Via Bob Baker Marionette Theater

The Bob Baker Marionette Theater is experiencing an exciting transition: it is now a nonprofit organization that will ensure the enduring legacy of its founder. The organization's new executive director is Alex Evans, who worked closely with Bob Baker for almost 10 years.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Sign of the Times

By C.J. Hirschfield

You’d be amazed how many people don’t know Children’s Fairyland exists (or “still exists”). It’s not that we’re a secret, exactly, but our public façade has always been a bit … reserved. If you were driving past our Grand Avenue entrance in a hurry, you could easily miss us.

Well, no longer.

Last Friday, for the first time in Fairyland history – and just in time for our 68th anniversary on Sept. 2 – we got an entrance sign that does us proud.

And it took only 10 years of planning and 15 months of groundwork.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Scooter Madness

By C.J. Hirschfield

The good news at Lake Merritt: hundreds of young crabs and an increased number of topsmelt fish, striped bass and bat rays have been sighted recently, and a newly repaired aeration unit near the pergola has resulted in a sweeter-smelling environment. “It’s all an indication that the water is doing fairly well,” says Lake Merritt Institute executive director James Robinson.

The not-so-good news: twenty or so electric Lime rental scooters have been fished out of the lake by James and his intrepid volunteer crew over the last few months.

Scooter in Lake Merritt.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Making a MegaMatterhorn

By C.J. Hirschfield

Once upon a time—2006, to be exact—a wonderful artist named Mary Anne Kluth came to work at Children’s Fairyland as our set-restoration painter. (We always have a whimsical set that needs love, attention and brightening.) Who knew that someday Mary Anne would go on to create wildly fantastic and compelling “theme park collages”—and that her new MegaMatterhorn would be featured in our own Oakland Museum of California for a two-year exhibition? We couldn’t be more excited.

The MegaMatterhorn exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California. Photo: Mary Anne Kluth.

I recently asked Mary Anne whether her experience at Fairyland influenced her whole body of work. I was pleased by her answer: “That’s fair to say.”