One of my kids’ favorite museums is the National Air & Space Museum’s annex near Dulles Airport. And, like most kids in the U.S. under 15, one of their favorite holidays is Halloween. Last night, at an annual event called Air & Scare, they (and my wife and I) had a chance to combine the two.
Air & Scare is a very popular event, drawing kids in all sorts of costumes from all around the DC area. We had to wait in a long line of cars for over an hour, in the rain, just to get into the parking lot, but my kids didn’t mind too much (there was a little whining, but not nearly as much as that long a wait would usually engender). We got inside and beheld the utter chaos, never having seen the museum that crowded. There were kids of all ages in all sorts of costumes everywhere.
They always have an interesting set of activities and stations for the event, with all sorts of things for the kids to learn about from whether Area 51 was/is real to how likely it is there’s life on Mars. They have neat games, including blasting paper ghosts with AirZookas and driving a Mars rover in a very detailed simulation. They have people walking around dressed, in excellent costumes, as Star Wars characters: from generic ones like a droid, clone troopers, and nameless Jedis to Chewbacca and Darth
Vader. My son, who was dressed like Vader himself (along with roughly 1/12 of the rest of the boys there), insisted on standing in line to have his picture taken with the life-size version (though the "real" Vader was only about six feet tall and was noticeably paunchy). There was enough cool stuff there that the treat stations, where the candy was handed out, were less interesting to my kids than most of the rest of it.
I love to see the successful pairing of education and fun, and this one was great. I think it’s awesome that it was so popular, because it’s good for the museum and it means probably a lot of kids who don’t get to go to that museum that often got to go. I do selfishly wish it could’ve been a little less popular when we got there, but my kids had a blast, and to me that’s all that really matters. I wish more museums would do things like this–I know trick-or-treating at shopping malls has become very popular in the last decade or so, but really, wouldn’t you love your kids begging you to go to the museum instead of the shopping mall?