Ezra Moore, 3, holds out his hands to catch the falling bubbles Thursday December 20, 2007 in the main lobby of the Imperial Centre during the Winter Wonderland simulated snowfall.

Telegram photo / Alan Campbell

Ezra Moore, 3, holds out his hands to catch the falling bubbles Thursday December 20, 2007 in the main lobby of the Imperial Centre during the Winter Wonderland simulated snowfall.

Winter comes to Imperial Centre

By Brie Handgraaf

Staff Writer

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Freezing temperatures and gloves aren’t needed for area children to enjoy playing in the snow this weekend because Winter Wonderland will take over the Imperial Centre for Arts & Sciences with falling snow indoors as just one of the highlights.

“There are so many fun things that happen at Winter Wonderland,” said Leigh White, curator of education for the Children’s Museum & Science Center. “We receive lots of great comments about the snow and the carriage rides, and everyone always loves seeing Santa. It is a great time for the whole family to come out.”

Winter Wonderland will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. with free holiday- and winter-themed activities for all ages. The Braswell Memorial Library storytellers will present seasonal programs throughout the day.

“We’ll have hands-on arts and science activities that are great for any age,” White said. “We’ll have some that 2- and 3-year-olds can participate in and some that are a little more involved for older children or adults.”

The city always offers free admission to the museum and art galleries on Sundays, but showings of Season of Light at 2 and 4 p.m. and Laser Holidays at 3 p.m. will be free in the Cummins Planetarium during Winter Wonderland.

The soap-based snow will fall without staining clothes or creating a slippery mess while choruses from Nash Central and Rocky Mount high schools and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School sing. This year, visitors also can enjoy daily indoor snowstorms at 1:30, 2:30, 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. until the end of December.

“Here in this area, some years we don’t see any snow at all, so this is something fun we can do,” White said. “Children love the snow – and to be able to enjoy it inside where it is not as cold is great. It is beautiful to watch the snow fall and everyone loves it.”

Horse-drawn carriage rides are available for $2 per person. Tickets can be purchased in front of the Imperial Centre, and the ride will take participants up Main Street and return down Church Street.

“When I hear Winter Wonderland, I think of a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the snow of a mountainous area,” White said. “This gives people a sense of the holiday season and the start of winter with a beautiful ride through downtown Rocky Mount.”

The ice skating rink debuted after the Christmas parade and will be open for avid skaters and first-time skaters through the end of December. Skating with skate rental is $4 per person.

“Last year, the ice skating rink was a nice surprise for a lot of folks,” White said. “We have quite a few who have been looking forward to skating again this year, so that will be nice for people to try on Sunday also.”

The North Pole Express Mail Station will be open through Dec. 22, but a table with stationary will be set up Sunday for children to write letters to Santa. White said if children include their names and addresses on their letters, Santa will write them back.

“With the exception of a few activities, most of the events scheduled during Winter Wonderland are free, and there is certainly something for everyone to enjoy,” Parks and Recreation Director Kelvin Yarrell said.

For more information, contact the Imperial Centre at 252-972-1167 or log onto www.imperialcentre.org.