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Shelby Township

Stony Creek Metropark invites patrons to join in autumn celebrations

October 3, 2012

» click to enlarge «
Mark Szabo leads kids in a song at the 2012 Moms and Families Campfire program May 12 at Stony Creek Metropark. Szabo also performs after wagon rides at Stony Creek throughout October.

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Mark Szabo has been a Metroparks interpreter for more than 30 years, and there are few activities he enjoys as much as welcoming friends around the campfire with his guitar.

Szabo’s musical stylings are as much a part of fall at Stony Creek Metropark in Shelby Township and Rochester as yellow, orange and red leaves, and he hopes he can spread his appreciation for the season to even more visitors this year.

“I like playing music around the fire for folks, and when it works, we can really connect with them,” said Szabo of his performances that accompany the park’s October wagon rides every Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

“When it works, it works really well, and I’ve actually had some calls already from people coming back for their third or fourth year.”

Szabo said song selection varies based on the audience and the accompanying musicians.

“If there’s a few kids, I do my children’s nature songs,” Szabo said. “If it’s mostly adults, sometimes I have a fiddle player that knows a lot of genres, so we can do some French songs or Celtic songs. I read the audience.”

Szabo’s accompanying musicians include fiddlers and harmonica players, but he said the message of his performances stays the same.

“It’s not just music for music’s sake,” Szabo said. “It has a message about nature.”

Nature is the other star of the wagon ride and October events at Stony Creek.

The wagon rides take visitors on a three-mile ride from the nature center around the grounds and back to the nature center for a bonfire, cider, doughnuts and Szabo’s performances.

“The ride is tractor-drawn, and people really like them because we get the bonfire and Mark Szabo singing,” Metroparks Chief of Communications Denise Semion said. “It’s a great way to enjoy fall colors going through the park.”

The cost for a wagon ride is $6, and visitors must also have a vehicle entry permit or pay the $5 daily pass to enter the park at 4300 Main Park Road in Shelby Township.

Because of the wagon rides’ popularity, visitors must pre-register with the nature center and prepay by calling (586) 781-9113.

There are also wagon ride opportunities for scout groups; the tractor is reserved for Cub Scouts and Girls Scouts of America from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 16 and 17, respectively.

The cost for the scout excursions is also $6, and pre-registration with the nature center is required.

Not lost in the park’s fall celebrations is Halloween with the “Naturally It’s Howl ‘O’ Ween” event slated for noon Oct. 20 at the nature center. Visitors are encouraged to wear their costumes.

The event costs $5 per child and $3 per adult and has interpreters leading activities, such as games, crafts and a look at “some of Halloween’s spookiest animals,” complete with snake petting.

“Autumn is a time for celebration,” Szabo said of the fall events. “Traditionally, it is a time for celebrating that goes back 1,000 years, and we still have that in us.”

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