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Children’s Playhouse turns 10

Article Published: Nov. 8, 2012 | Modified: Nov. 11, 2012
Children’s Playhouse turns 10

Sophia and Rebekah take a tumble in The Children’s Playhouse ball pit. The Playhouse will grant free admission Thursday, Friday and Saturday as part of its 10th birthday celebration.

Photo submitted

The Children’s Playhouse is an imagination hut for children and their parents.

Inside are an art room, pretend vet clinic, kitchen and farmers’ market, aquarium and fun gym room.
Outside are a big cedar swing, the gnome home cabin, wooden toys and garden tools.

The Playhouse began in 2002 and now, after community friendships and funding challenges, it celebrates its 10th birthday.

Today, Friday and Saturday will offer free admission, membership discounts and special activities, culminating in a free kids’ music concert with pizza and cake.

As for birthday presents, the Playhouse will post a wish list of needed items, ranging from glue sticks to money. When families bring in a donation, they can add a decoration to a giant birthday cake poster.

Admission to birthday events, however, is free. During the rest of the year, guests without a membership can spend a day at the playhouse for $5 per person.

Since its 2002 beginning, The Children’s Playhouse has been the only exclusive children’s museum in Watauga County. It combines kids’ educational and physical activities and parental support, a common mix in metropolitan areas like in Phoenix and Pittsburgh.

“We wanted those kinds of opportunities here, and they’re just done Boone style,” executive director Kathy Parham said.

Parham said that because of Boone’s heavy winter, she and other founders Beth Darnell and Ann Kiefert were looking for indoor educational activities for their young children. They rented their current building from Boone Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, which has since supported their efforts by not raising the rent price.

Parham said their admission and membership fees cover only about 30 percent of expenses. “We do a lot of fundraising and grant writing,” she said.

The Playhouse’s funding was $5,000 three years ago. Now, it is cut completely. But “local love” has been gracious, from coffee donated by Espresso News to parent regulars who built the Playhouse’s wooden train set and outdoor cabin, Parham said.

The Playhouse has also had many Appalachian State University students work as interns and volunteer for service learning. The Playhouse averages about 8,000 visits per year and have sold or given away more than 1,050 memberships in the last 10 years.

Last year, 54 memberships were given away to low-income families and social service agencies. Over 10 years, they have given away more than $45,000 worth of free memberships.

Family memberships give a family unlimited admission and other discounts at the Playhouse for a year. Passport memberships offer the same benefits, plus free or reduced admission to more than 150 other children’s museums around the country.

During the 10th anniversary, the Playhouse will offer $10 off its $100 family membership and $15 off its $125 passport membership.

Because the Playhouse is a nonprofit organization, $75 of the membership fee is tax-deductible. During the 10th anniversary, all admission is free.

For more information and full list of sponsors, visit or call (828) 263-0011.

Event Schedule

Thursday, Nov. 8

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Mast General Store Free Play Day (Free admission)
10:30 a.m. – Free “Try It” Music Class with Laura Donovan
3:30 p.m. – Sand Art

Friday, Nov. 9

10 a.m. to 3 p.m. – Orthodontists and Pediatric Dentists Drs. Mayhew, Scheffler, Hardaway and Conn Free Play Day (Free admission)
10:15 a.m. to noon – Face painting by Birdie, Birdie
10:30 a.m. – “State Line Jam” with Liam Purcell and Willow Dillon
3:30 p.m. – Max the Magician

Saturday Nov. 10

10:15 a.m. – Angel Bear Yoga
11 a.m. to noon – Big, Bang, Boom! concert
Noon – Co-Creating Community Art installation, drawing for a free birthday party gift certificate, drawing for a free massage
Noon to 2 p.m. – Earth Fare Pizza and Stick Boy Birthday cake (while supplies last)

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