The Great Hall of the Peabody Museum of Natural History came alive the night of Nov. 13 with running children and tired parents from the greater New Haven area at the semiannual “Dino-Snore.” Sleeping bags, air mattresses and tents surrounded the dinosaur bones, and the museum was teeming with children in pajamas and slippers.
The Dino-Snore sleepover allows for approximately 80 people to spend the night at the museum and take part in activities throughout the building such as paper airplane contests and a mystery fossil scavenger hunt.
“It’s a great way for more people to really get to know the museum well,” David Mangold Heiser, events coordinator for the Peabody Museum, said. “We close this place off to the public, so this place is basically theirs for the night.”
The evening started off with an introduction to the museum and settling in to the Great Hall. Participants then engaged in various arts and crafts projects with natural history themes and a paper airplane contest judged on accuracy, time aloft and distance traveled. There was also a trip to the Leitner Family Observatory in Farnham Memorial Gardens for star gazing and a mystery fossil hunt, in which children searched throughout the building for fossils and kept those they found.
The event’s different stations were manned by volunteers, including Peabody employees and Yale students.
“I think it really gives families time to do things together without having to worry about the usual stuff like who’s doing the dishes after dinner or anything else like that,” Lourdes Rojas, a Dino-Snore volunteer and museum assistant, said.
Another volunteer, Papia Ghosh GRD ’06, said the fun in volunteering stemmed from the children’s excitement.
“I just really enjoy all the energy the kids have,” Ghosh said. “It’s really cute. At my station, they were making dinosaur puppets and then talking in little voices. It’s good for them — they learn and have fun.”
The event costs a total of $40 per participant, including parents, who call as early as Oct. 4 to ensure they are not put on the waiting list, which has been large in past years.
Julia Pazareskis of Wallingford, who was present with her husband and two children, said spaces for the event sell out quickly.
“We chose to be members of the Peabody just so we could come to the Dino-Snore again, and we called right at 9 a.m. to make sure we got in,” Pazareskis said. “We did it in the spring and we loved it — the fossil hunt, the crafts. I mean, my kids love dinosaurs, so this is the perfect thing for us.”
Her son, Jared, said he enjoyed the paper airplanes and cutting dinosaurs out of construction paper at Rojas’ arts and crafts station.
“I like the paper airplanes the best because my dad helped me, and we cut little things on the wings, and that helped it stay up longer,” the six-year-old said.
Overall, the sleepovers are usually a success, Heiser said, and the greatest problem is people not being able to sleep.
“One year we had someone complaining because somebody was [snoring] at the Dino-Snore, so that person didn’t really get to sleep much. But other than things like that, things have never really gone wrong,” Heiser said.
This Dino-Snore’s turnout and the enthusiastic response of the children, parents and volunteers show the event achieved its educational and family-focused goals, he said.
“What we are aiming for here is fun through education and quality family time,” Heiser said.