The Hands on Children’s Museum (HOCM) is ready for a summer of fun with the Summer Splash Festival, sponsored by WSECU. This year’s lineup includes mermaids, pirates, getting messy with foam and fire safety. A season long event, the festival will feature recreational and educational activities for young families. The first major event is the Fire Rescue Spectacular from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on June 22. This event is in partnership with the Olympia Fire Department and will give kids the chance to explore their fleet of emergency vehicles and take the Jr. Firefighter Challenge. Families can enjoy a myriad of additional activities including a Spray Gallery, Face Painting, a Splash Zone and voting for their favorite vintage fire engine.
The Fire Rescue Spectacular is a key annual outreach event for the Olympia Fire Department. It is a chance for children to meet their local firefighters and police officers while learning more about fire preventio
n and safety. This will be the third Fire Rescue Spectacular at the HOCM.
This year’s event will also feature a demonstration from the Special Operations Rescue Team. “They use the big ladder truck and a basket and it’s what they would actually use if they were rescuing someone in a higher-level apartment building,” explains HOCM Event Manager Paulette Beadling.
The Fire Rescue Spectacular will include free actives outside on the street as well as additional events within the museum, free with museum admission. Street activities include a vintage firetruck display, opportunities to spray a real fire hose, splash in the Splash Zone and a visit from the Olympia Fire Department mascot, Sparky the Fire Dog. One of the most crowd-pleasing events is the Jr. Firefighter Challenge. “It gives young people a chance to essentially make a rescue,” says Beadling. “They run through a bit of a maze and there’s actually a tunnel. They get to rescue a stuffed animal and at the end and spray a real fire hose to put out a fake fire. The kids love this event!”
On the street, food for purchase will also be available from various vendors including Firehouse hot dogs, polish dogs, and coffee from Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters. Twice throughout the day, firefighters will also be handing out mini ice cream cones to young attendees free of charge.
Another popular attraction of the Fire Rescue Spectacular is the Splash Zone, in which young ones can stand under a ladder fire truck that sprays water. “Kids can actually get a little bit wet,” says Beadling. “We encourage folks to bring a towel or a change of clothes, in case the kiddos do get wet. The splash zone will be right out in the street.”
Within the museum, children can create their own firefighter badge and helmet, get their photo taken in the firefighter photo booth or climb aboard a fire truck from 1921. There will also be several activities surrounding campfire safety, including Campfire Fun, which will teach kids safe ways to build a campfire and how to cook food over a flame. There will be a scavenger hunt throughout the museum as well where children can search for firefighter helmets on museum murals.
Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital & Health Network, part of MultiCare is the main sponsor of the Fire Rescue Spectacular. The museum and the fire department work closely to provide this event to the community. “When we established Summer Splash, we targeted the whole summer break to mitigate the learning loss that’s so common during long school breaks,” explains HOCM Senior Development Manager, Amy Brockman. “So while Summer Splash is super fun and this particular day will be very, very exciting, it also has many educational components that are woven in.”
For the organizers of the spectacular, it is a special moment to see the firetrucks line up on the street after months of planning and witness the interaction between the families and service members of the community. “Anytime you see a happy, smiling child, it’s a highlight,” says Brockman. “It makes it even more special having a portion of the Olympia Police Department and the vast majority of the Olympia Fire Department here, engaged with the museum in a true partnership.”
A Summer Full of Fun
Later in the summer, the museum will have a different theme for each month, with July being Make A Mega Mess, sponsored by Small to Tall Pediatric Dentistry. The main event, the Fabulous Foam Party, will be featured on July 12 and 13 and will give kids a chance to play in a pit of natural, bio-degradable bubbly foam. In August, mermaids and pirates are on the deck, with Macy’s sponsoring the month of festivities. On August 1-3, world renowned edutainer, Mermaid Linden, will share her passion for marine conservation. Her shows are designed to invite children to discover the magic of marine life in the Puget Sound and will include a meet and greet, and an opportunity to take a photo. The pirates will arrive later in the month, on August 16 and 17 with Pyrates of the Coast. Their show, Adventures Aboard the Megan D, will allow the audience to participate in a game of Captain Says (like Simon Says), join the crew in an adventurous story line, a sing-a-long and discover a treasure at the end.
The Megan D, a 56-foot vintage schooner purchased from the Port of Olympia, will be the newest major exhibit at the museum, due to open late this summer. Coming to the Outdoor Discovery Center, the completed schooner will allow children to crawl through and on top of the boat. The Megan D will be christened at the Summer Splash Gala on August 23.
The Summer Splash Gala is a fundraiser with all proceeds benefitting the museum’s many Free and Reduced Programs. “In fact, the entire Summer Splash Festival is a fundraiser,” says Brockman. “All Summer Splash sponsorship dollars directly support our access programs. We never want to discourage a family from coming to the museum for any reason. If there is a hardship, we do all that we can to invite those families in and the Summer
Splash Festival helps to make that possible by directly supporting our many access programs.”
To learn more about HOCM exhibits and the Summer Splash Festival, visit the Hands On Children’s Museum website.