Beasts come in all sizes and shapes. The 17th season of Biscayne National Park’s multi-award-winning Family Fun Fest will explore Biscayne’s fantastic beasts, from tiny plankton to manatees and crocodiles.
The series begins on Sunday, Dec. 11, at the park’s Dante Fascell Visitor Center. The events are free and take place from 1 to 4 p.m. on the second Sunday of every month from December through April.
Family Fun Fest Junior includes specially designed activities for toddlers (ages 5 and under) to ensure that the entire family gets to participate, and free transportation from downtown Homestead (and by extension, anywhere served by public transportation) is available aboard the Homestead National Parks Trolley, courtesy of the City of Homestead.
Inspired by the motion picture Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, this year’s event series will highlight a different group of park animals each month with activities that include games, science experiments, live animal presentations and craft projects. Participants receive a passport which they get punched as they complete each of five activities. After collecting all five punches, kids earn a specially designed button to help them remember the lessons learned.
The 2016-17 themes are:
Feathered Friends, Dec. 11, 1-4 p.m., From tiny warblers to great big owls, birds are totally fly!
In Cold Blood, Jan. 8, 2017, 1-4 p.m., Lizards & turtles & snakes…oh my! Reptiles are really cool!
Mighty Mammals, Feb. 12, 1-4 p.m., Warm & fuzzy with a sip of milk, please!
Who You Calling Spineless?, Mar. 12, 1-4 p.m., Just because an animal has no backbone doesn’t mean it’s wimpy!
Something’s Fishy, Apr. 9, 1-4 p.m., Shiny scales & flapping tails…fish are fintastic!
Participants who earn all five buttons in a season are declared “Family Fun Fest Fanatics” and earn a special award in April.
In addition to five activity stations at each event, there also will be one activity station focusing on theme-related creative play for parents with toddlers.
“The little guys will earn a button just like their older brothers and sisters, but with activities geared to their skill level,” said Yelitza Sepulveda, the program’s creator. “Family Fun Fest Junior fills an important niche for parents looking for innovative educational opportunities for their children.”
Family Fun Fest is made possible through visitor donations and the Bobby Duryea Fund at the South Florida National Parks Trust, with additional support from the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserves, a variety of other local agencies and businesses, and a host of dedicated volunteers.
The Dante Fascell Visitor Center is located at 9700 SW 328 St., nine miles east of Homestead. Call 305-230-7275 or visit www.nps.gov/bisc.