It is spring break week for many Waco-area schools, one with fewer public COVID-19 restrictions or precautions than the last two years.
The sharp drop in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations nationwide last month has led many state and local governments, businesses and organizations to drop or relax masking orders and limitations on indoor gatherings.
For many families, it is a return to trips and activities put on hold. For some Waco museums, libraries and tourist venues, it is a return to special activities aimed at children and families.
Cameron Park Zoo
At the Cameron Park Zoo and other Waco tourist stops, spring break runs two weeks: one that sees largely local traffic and the following week for visitors from out-of-town school districts on a different spring break schedule.
“The second week is usually the busiest for us,” zoo spokesperson Duane McGregor said.
Last spring saw the zoo’s spring break attendance start to rebound from the pandemic shutdown of 2020 that began in March.
“If the weather is good, we can see 52,000 to 54,000 people over the two weeks. Last year, we were only 600 short of that,” McGregor said.
The zoo has no special activities planned for spring break crowds other than a scavenger hunt visitors can play on their smartphones. The hunt, played through the GooseChase app, costs $20 per team with access to password and entry code plus a stuffed animal. The hunt is sold at the zoo store between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Zoo hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays, with last tickets sold at 4:30 p.m. Admission is $13 for adults, $12 for senior adults, $10 for children 3-12 years old, and free for children 2 and younger. Tickets are available at www.cameronparkzoo.com/visit/tickets/.
The Mayborn Museum also is planning for a two-week spring break, which it calls its Supersized Spring Break. The museum’s regular emphasis days will have special activities planned between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. with Mini-Monday activities at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Mondays.
Mini-Mondays feature a story or children’s book read aloud, followed by discussion of objects in the day’s Storytime Discovery Chest. Storyteller Vivian Rutherford will read at 10:30 a.m. Monday, and Emily Clark and Melissa Pennington will read at 1:30 p.m. Monday. Alan Small will read at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. March 14.
Tinker Tuesdays and Thursdays allow kids to explore tools and materials by making items. Village Wednesdays and Fridays, held in the Gov. Bill and Vara Daniel Historic Village, look at life in a 19th century rural Texas village. Activities on Wednesday, Friday and March 16 include a blacksmith demonstration, spring garden planting and a Texas Farm Bureau presentation on the cotton gin.
Retired FBI special agent and criminal profiler James Fitzgerald will give a talk titled “The Science of Solving Crimes,” including his involvement in the Unibomber and D.C. sniper cases, at 10 a.m. March 18. His talk is limited to people 18 and older due to its subject matter.
Mayborn Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for senior adults, $8 for children 2-12 and available at baylor.edu/mayborn.
The Waco-McLennan County Library will offer daily “STEAM Through Spring Break” activities for children and youth at each of its branches next week, topped with a free outdoor screening of the animated film “Aladdin” on Thursday night.
Activities will reflect each of the topics represented by the acronym: Science on Monday, Technology on Tuesday, Engineering on Wednesday, Art on Thursday and Math on Friday. In addition, the library system’s teen librarian, Bliss Brewer, will visit branches throughout the week to lead activities between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.. She will be at South Waco Library on Monday, Central Library on Tuesday and Thursday, West Waco Library on Wednesday and East Waco Library on Friday.
The “Aladdin” screening, complete with lyric sheets for a sing-along, will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday outside South Waco Library. Admission is free, and attendees can bring blankets or lawn chairs for seating.
The week’s library events and activities are free. Library hours vary by location and day.
Texas Ranger Museum
The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum will hold its annual Spring Break Round Up from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The event will feature reenactors representing Rangers from the 1870s, in period dress with a chuck wagon cookout. Retired Texas Ranger Jim Huggins also will speak at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Museum admission is $8 for adults, $7 for senior adults and military, $4 for children 6 to 12, and free for children 5 and younger.
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