Exotic animals, magic and more at summer reading program

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published May 25, 2021

HAZEL PARK — The summer reading program will be starting soon at the Hazel Park Memorial District Library. This year there will be opportunities to see rare and exotic animals up close, as well as theater skits, tea parties, book bingo, a presentation on wildlife by a naturalist, a magician, a picnic in the park, and of course, prizes.

The festivities take place on Tuesdays beginning June 15, usually at Scout Park, 900 E. Otis Ave. The library itself is located at 123 E. Nine Mile Road.

The inaugural event June 15 features Dan the Creature Man, who will bring live specimens such as a tarantula, a tortoise, an alligator, a chinchilla, a giant African bullfrog, parrots, a panther chameleon, snakes and more. It’s a safe way to see animals and insects in person that you don’t see every day. This event will take place 1-2 p.m. at Scout Park.  

“He is well-known for his amazing program with exotic animals,” said librarian Amy Beem. “It’s going to be so much fun learning about them. The majority of their animals have been adopted or rescued from local animal shelters, police departments and private citizens. They promote wildlife conservation and also include animals that are captive-bred and not wild-caught.”

Other events include a Mad Hatter Party June 22, inspired by “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” with themed activities, taking place 1-2 p.m. and 6-7:30 p.m at Scout Park., and a presentation by a Howell Nature Center naturalist on “fantastical creatures,” including a hawk, an owl, a large mammal such as an opossum, and a turtle or snake, 1-2 p.m. and 6-7:30 p.m. June 29 at Scout Park.

There will also be Book Bingo outside at the library 1-2 p.m. July 6; Open Spot Theatre July 13, where kids write and perform a play of their own creation with no props and then perform it for their caregivers, 1-2 p.m. and 6-7:30 p.m. at Scout Park; and then the grand finale July 27, starring the magician Baffling Bill, 1-2 p.m. and 6-7:30 p.m. at Scout Park.

“The library has never had Baffling Bill perform,” Beem said. “We are excited to have him and his live rabbit perform magic and illusions.”

The summer reading program then comes to a close July 30 with a picnic party under the pavilion 5-7 p.m. at Scout Park.

As with prior years, there are prizes to be won by reading books as part of the program. Everyone can register starting June 7, either by visiting the library or calling (248) 546-4095. Participants record what they read in a reading log, with a new prize for every three hours of reading, including a free book after logging nine hours and entry into the grand prize drawing July 27 after 12 hours. There are four prize levels.

There are also weekly prize drawings for signing up. Winners get to pick prizes from a glass case containing items such as stuffed animals, fidget spinners, puzzles, trains and more. The grand prize drawing is for a Kindle Fire and a gift card for the video game store Retro-Taku.  

The library also continues to gather people for “Pokemon Go” meetups at a different park at 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays and at 1 p.m. Thursdays.

Wednesday dates and locations include June 16 at Scout Park, June 23 at Green Acres Park, June 30 at Tuski Park, July 7 at Felker Park, July 14 at Wilson Park, July 21 at Martin Road Park and July 28 at United Oaks Elementary School.

Thursday dates and locations include June 17 at Scout Park, June 24 at Green Acres Park, July 1 at Tuski Park, July 8 at Felker Park, July 15 at Wilson Park, July 22 at Martin Road Park and July 29 at United Oaks Elementary School.

Corrine Stocker, the library director, said she looks forward to this year’s lineup as society begins to emerge from the pandemic.

“If our other outdoor programs are an indication, I’m hopeful that our outdoor summer reading programs will be extremely well-attended,” Stocker said. “We have some wonderful events lined up, and people are really eager to get out and have fun. I’m optimistic that this summer will be a huge step towards a return to normal.”