The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 27, 2013

Event combines Halloween, history

David Hurst

JOHNSTOWN — Treat-bag toting pirates, princesses and even a pint-sized dinosaur roamed Johnstown’s Heritage Discovery Center on Sunday.

Costumed kids got a hands-on look at the center’s children museum, while filling their bags with crafts, treats – and hopefully, a little knowledge about the area’s history, organizers of this year’s Halloween at the Children’s Museum said.

“The idea was to let them have fun while learning at the same time,” said Jayme Brooks, assistant director of visitors services for the Heritage Discovery Center in Cambria City.

“That’s what the Children’s Museum is all about – discovery learning.”

Dozens of costume-clad kids took advantage of the opportunity Sunday, exploring interactive exhibits like the Steel Mill and the Inclimber, which included an “underground city” coal mine and a controllable hillside inclined plane.

“The slide was my favorite. It twists,” said Molly Lazzari, 5, of Johnstown, referring to the Inclimber’s coal chute.

Dressed as Clara Barton, she put down her medical pouch to reach into a treat bag filled with chips and crafts like a mouse mask.

Brooks said museum staff featured oftentimes “creepy” creatures like rats, bats and snakes for this year’s theme.

“We wanted to show the kids that animals like these can be helpful animals, too,” she said. Coal miners, for example, could often detect signs of underground dangers by observing rats, Brooks said.

Behind her, James Audi, 4, dressed as a dragon, had just finished attaching whiskers to his mouse mask.

Next door, Logan Manges, 4, fished in his dinosaur costume, trying to catch paper versions of trout and other native fish.

“Everything here is so nice.

“It’s so interactive for these kids,” said Vivian Urban, whose granddaughter, Vayda Urban, 3, was one of about 40 costumed kids at the event.

Students from Mount Aloysius College and the University of Pittsburgh at Johns-

town served as volunteers, Brooks said.

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at