By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press
WAYNESBORO — With hopes set on a building on Race Avenue as its physical location, the Blue Ridge Children’s Museum’s plans are stalled during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the museum’s mission carries on.
In early 2020, the museum’s board put all activities on hold, but began making plans again by summer for activities.
“We looked at other things we could be doing in the community,” said BRCM founder and President Karen Orlando.
Orlando said that when the pandemic began, the museum had already ordered materials for planned activities in 2020. As a volunteer-based nonprofit, the museum was able to take its plans outside doors, use the materials already purchased and reach the community.
Before Thanksgiving, a lantern-making workshop was held, and community members were encouraged to submit videos of their families making lanterns.
On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, families were invited to sign up for slots and social distance from other families for a Lantern Walk on the River City’s Greenway.
“It worked out better than I could have hoped for,” Orlando said.
Musicians played music where the Lantern Walk began and where it ended for participants.
Orlando said Waynesboro Parks & Recreation, the Frontier Culture Museum and several other local partnerships made the event possible and the BRCM hopes to make the Walk “a proper event” next year.
Through smaller programming, the museum will continue to reach out into the community. Right now, plans are underway for a Valentine’s Day socially-distanced event.
Orlando said the museum needs more volunteers and to create committees “so we can hit the ground running” when the pandemic ends.
The museum has received a few grants to help with programming, and is sharing physical space at the Russell Museum across from The Wayne Theatre. The hope is to eventually call a building on Race Avenue across from Constitution Park home, according to Orlando. The building would centrally locate the museum to the park, Waynesboro’s downtown and when the Virginia Museum of Natural History is built.
The BRCM’s mission is to provide families and children quality programming that focuses on local natural resources.
“We just kind of want to connect people with what we already have here,” Orlando said.