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Christmas crafts, creatures enliven Wildlife Winterfest

December 3, 2017 GMT

FLORENCE, S.C. – Children enjoyed some wild fun at Lynches River County Park on Saturday morning as they met animals and made holiday memories during the park’s Wildlife Winterfest.

More than 75 people attended the free event, which included making Christmas crafts, writing letters to Santa, Wonders of Wildlife animal shows, games, roasting marshmallows and more. With a donation to Toys for Tots or Harvest Hope Food Bank, children could get a free picture with Santa.

“It’s just a great place to bring a family,” said Retha Kelly-Horne, Environmental Discovery Center supervisor at the park.

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Amber England, an attendee, said she is an animal enthusiast, so the Wonders of Wildlife animal show was her favorite part of the event.

“Holding the owl was really cool because I’ve never had an owl on my neck,” Amber said.

Students learned about animals and got to pet or hold snacks, lizards, rabbits and owls while parents took pictures.

“It’s been an awesome experience,” said Iesha Lawrence. Lawrence brought her family to the event for the second year in a row.

Her family made s’mores for the first time. Lawrence said the family recently moved to Florence from the North, and having outdoor experiences such as roasting marshmallows in a fire pit is one reason they enjoy their new city.

Rhiannon Herring said she enjoys bringing her family to Wildlife Winterfest because there are a variety of activities for children and the park’s staff and volunteers are always patient, friendly and hospitable.

Foreign exchange students with Academic Year in America volunteered at the event as part of their volunteer service to fulfill scholarship requirements.

Kelly-Horne said many families visit the park for the first time during the annual Wildlife Winterfest. She said that once they see all the park has to offer, they often come back.

“Lynches River County Park and the Environmental Discovery Center is just a hidden jewel,” Kelly-Horne said. “A lot of people don’t know about it. The people who do love it and return, but we want a bigger base of people.”

Kelly-Horne said Lynches River County Park is a beautiful location that invites people to lay aside electronics, get outside and learn more about where they live.

On Saturday morning, the park also hosted Breakfast with Santa. The sold-out event included breakfast, a picture with Santa and a goodie bag. Many families stayed after the breakfast to attend Wildlife Winterfest.