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Today’s Email Announcements

1) Animal Birthday Party at Grandfather Mountain on June 17

Whether you have fur or feathers, scales or skin, Grandfather Mountain’s Animal Birthday Party on June 17 will offer exciting activities designed to excite and delight.

The Animal Birthday Party includes a full day of special events designed to honor the black bears, bald eagle, deer, river otters and cougar that call Grandfather Mountain home. Most activities are included with park admission.

“This is a great way to celebrate all of the habitat animals, from our oldest bear, Gerry, at 26 years old, to our youngest otter, Oscar, who’s just over a year old,” said Animal Habitats Curator Christie Tipton. “We want to use this day to thank the animals for all they do to enrich our lives and to educate people about our native wildlife.”

Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the Nature Museum, kids can make animal birthday cards and participate in a “Test Your Animal Knowledge” Contest.

From 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., a Behind-the-Scenes Habitat Tour will be offered at a reduced rate of $20 per person. Guests can see where the cougars and otters sleep overnight, meet black bears not usually on display, observe a training session and learn more about why each animal lives at Grandfather Mountain. Space is limited, so the Behind-the-Scenes tours must be booked in advance by calling (828) 733-8715 or registering in the Nature Museum on June 17.

At 11 a.m., visitors can join in “The Thicket Game” at the Let it Rain Picnic Shelter. At 12:30 p.m., staff members will host a Keeper Talk inside the Nature Museum with some of the educational animals, which include snakes, owls, an opossum and a skunk!

At 1 p.m., an interactive activity will be held outside the Fudge Shop to introduce guests to the different types of animals that live on Grandfather Mountain. Free birthday cake will be available from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Fudge Shop.

At 1:30 p.m., join the habitat staff to make birthday enrichments for the animals at the Let it Rain Picnic Shelter. Help decorate the bears’ birthday cake or prepare a homemade toy for the cougar.

The final activity of the day begins at 2:15 p.m. when winners of the “Test Your Animal Knowledge” Contest are announced in the Nature Museum. The winner, along with one family member, wins a free behind-the-scenes visit with one of the animals.

Immediately after the announcement, visitors can head to the habitats to watch the animals receive their birthday enrichments. Visit grandfather.com for the full schedule.

Grandfather Mountain also offers several other ways friends of the animals can help improve their lives.

The nonprofit park now offers an Amazon.com Wish List outlining toys and supplies that are appropriate for the Grandfather Mountain habitat animals. Donors can choose a gift for their favorite animal, purchase online and have it delivered straight to Grandfather Mountain for immediate enjoyment by the animal residents. The list of suggested items is available at bit.ly/GMAmazonWishlist.

Animal lovers also can contribute through the Grandfather Mountain Adopt-an-Animal Program. Honorary adopters receive a photo of their animal, certificate of adoption, informational sheet about the animal’s life and additional items at higher donation levels, including a plush animal, cast of an animal footprint, day pass to Grandfather Mountain, note cards or behind-the-scenes visit with the adopted animal. Adoption levels range from $25 to $300. More information is available online at bit.ly/GManimaladoption.

2) Free June Workshops Offered for Liberty Day Preparation in Todd

Workshops will be held throughout June to prepare for the Elkland Art Center’s Fourth of July Liberty Parade.

Have you ever said to yourself, “I want to make a giant puppet”? Well, here’s your chance!

The Liberty Parade takes place annually in Todd on the Fourth of July and is the kind of parade where everyone is in the parade. Elkland Art Center provides costumes, giant puppets and props for celebrants of all ages and abilities. This year’s Liberty Parade will take place on Saturday, July 4 at 11 a.m. in Todd at the corner of N.C. Highway 194 N. and Railroad Grade Road. Come at 10:30 a.m. to get costumed.

Workshops are being held in June on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Fridays from 1-4 p.m. at the Elkland Art Center, 10279 Three Top Road in Todd. Bring a bag lunch or something to share if coming on a Monday. Lunch hours are noon to 1 p.m. Workshops are free for all through the support of many generous contributors.

3) Contra Dance Returns to Apple Barn in Valle Crucis on Saturday

The Boone Country Dancers will be at the Apple Barn in Valle Crucis for its next community contra dance on Saturday, June 13. Everyone is welcome to attend regardless of dance experience. The evening will begin with a beginners’ workshop from 7:30-8 p.m. The goal of the workshop is to teach the fundamentals of contra dance with a focus on having fun. After the workshop, the regular dance will run from 8-11 p.m. with a waltz break at 9:30 p.m. The dance will feature the band Boom Chuck and the caller will be Dean Snipes.

Dancers of all ages are encouraged to attend and no partner is necessary. Come as you are and wear clean, soft-soled, flexible shoes for dancing. As always, our dances are smoke and alcohol free. Admission to the dance is $7 for adults, $5 for high school students and free to anyone 12 years old or younger.

For further information, please visit the Boone Country Dancers online.

4) June 20 Evening Programs on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Coyotes in Our Midst: Linville Falls Campground Amphitheater, MP 316, 7 p.m. Coyotes are adaptable and resilient carnivores that have greatly expanded their range. Learn about this fascinating animal and what to do if you encounter one face-to-face. Approximately 45 minutes long.

Picture This: Crabtree Falls Campground Amphitheater, MP 340, 7 p.m. The Blue Ridge Parkway’s scenic vistas, abundant wildlife and diverse flora have been subject to cameras both small and large since before the park was constructed. Come learn about photography fundamentals and how to apply them along the way. Approximately 45 minutes long.