Master plan complete for Caribou kids’ museum

Posted Jan. 07, 2011, at 7:55 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:41 a.m.

Since 2006, Nancy Chandler and fellow supporters of the proposed Caribou Children’s Discovery Museum have been working to raise approximately $1.5 million to establish that facility for the benefit of children who reside in Aroostook County.

In 2007, supporters began raising funds, and this year, they hired an exhibit designer, Roto Studio of Dublin, Ohio.

Nancy contacted me this week to announce that Roto Studio had completed the master plan — and what a delightful plan it is.

The “Kid Town” concept is one that not only will entertain and amuse but also will educate children in how communities function and how they function within those communities.

The proposed museum includes an area for art and music and areas that teach children what it’s like to visit a dentist and the post office and how to use an ATM machine.

They will be able to dig for dinosaurs and to ride a power bike to produce an electric circuit.

The huge tree that is the focal point of the museum will be one in which children can climb and inspect everything from insects to birds of the area, and when it’s time to celebrate a birthday, there is a special room for that too.

Going to the theater or the doctor’s office are visits the kids will better understand after they have been introduced to those activities at the museum, and there will be a special spot for toddlers with tunnels and a peekaboo wall.

Nancy said the museum will be “for all of Aroostook County kids and kids coming through this area. It will be an educational, exciting, interactive place where kids can focus on creativity.”

The plan now is “to hit the ground running the first of the year” and get some serious donations in the offing.

Nancy recently did an interview with WAGM-TV, Channel 8, and supporters are in the process of sending out requests for donations from residents of Aroostook County and from those who have moved away.

She plans to contact foundations “that support this type of project” and seek additional sponsors for certain parts of the exhibit.

With some sponsors already on board, getting more sponsorships for areas and other specifics within the museum are on her must-do list.

And while CCDM supporters have lofty goals and ideas, they are very realistic.

The dream, of course, would be to be able to build a new, free-standing facility to accommodate the proposed 8,400-square-foot museum, but for now, Nancy said, plans are to locate the museum in an existing facility within downtown Caribou.

She recognizes, too, that many potential donors are “waiting for that first, big sponsorship to come in” and hopes that will happen soon.

In the meantime, CCDM is hard at work raising funds to proceed, and its major fundraiser, the Chocolate Festival, is planned for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12, at the Caribou Recreation Center on Bennett Drive.

Coupon booklets of 13 tickets are $10 or six for $5, and if you don’t have a coupon book, an admission donation of $2 will be charged.

With each coupon, Nancy informed me, guests can choose a chocolate treat “from thousands of choices.”

“Thousands of choices?” I asked.

“Absolutely,” she replied. “I alone have already baked 2,500 pieces of everything from fudge to truffles.”

Nancy said volunteer bakers usually begin working two or three weeks before but that she already has been busy nights and weekends and storing her goodies in the freezer.

The day of the event, members of Caribou High School National Honor Society will help get the tasting set up, and at 11 a.m., an auction will begin that features more than 100 items.

Other Chocolate Festival activities include a bounce house, bingo, face painting, chocolate contests and the opportunity to visit other vendors.

For more information, call Nancy at 764-9241 or visit www.cariboudiscovery.org.

If you are reading this online and are a former Aroostook County resident who wants to help get this museum up and running, you can mail your tax-deductible contribution to Caribou Children’s Discovery Museum, P.O. Box 487, Caribou 04736.

More information also is available by e-mailing contact@cariboudiscovery.org or at the above website.

Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; javerill@bangordailynews.com; 990-8288.

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