What To Do: Coronavirus takes toll on St. Patrick’s Day & other area events

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

St. Patrick

This is the strangest of weekends – and Friday the 13th is just the beginning.

Ordinarily, figuring out what to do for weekend fun would be relatively easy – just pick an event from a wide array of options.

But this weekend has been greatly impacted by the arrival of the Coronavirus.

So, if you’re trying to figure out what to do, here are some suggestions – wash your hands, cover your nose and mouth when coughing, wash your hands, steer clear of crowds, wash your hands, avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms, and wash your hands.

Because of the threat that COVID-19 puts out there, a wide array of options no longer exists.

Events, meetings, sports games, family activities, concerts and school programs are dropping from the weekend’s schedule at a head-spinning rate — but check before you go, as things continue to move quickly and more events may be cancelled at the last minute.

Some of the popular annual events usually held this weekend that have been cancelled are The Antiques at Kimberton Show, the 38th Annual Chester County Antiques Show, Monster-Mania Con 45, the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival and the Afternoon Music Club of Phoenixville spring concert.

But for those who want to get out and do things, there are some activities still on the schedule.

Restrictions have led to the cancellation of all the various St. Patrick’s Day parades in the area – Philadelphia, Wilmington, Springfield, Conshohocken — all of them wiped out more quickly than you can say “Erin Go Bragh.”

Fortunately, several events for celebrating the “wearing of the green” are still scheduled to be held as usual.

On March 15, the Schuylkill Canal Association will host the “St. Patrick’s Day Hike and Treasure Hunt” in and around Lock 60 (Mont Clare, 610-917-0021, http://www.schuylkillcanal.org).

Hikers are instructed to meet in the parking lot behind the Pickering Creek Inn at 1 p.m. and then walk across the bridge over the Schuylkill River and down the towpath to Lock 60.

In the Lock 60 picnic grove and surrounding area, there will be “gold coins” that have been scattered throughout the field for children to gather and turn in for prizes at the Locktender’s house (weather permitting).

Children of all ages can join in with a treasure and scavenger hunt with adult supervision. The hunt is expected to start around 1:40 p.m. To register youngsters for the “Treasure Hunt,” call (610) 917-0021.

Live music will be presented by local musicians with a program featuring both folk songs and Irish tunes.

Local historian Ryan Conroy will also be around to share his knowledge of the Irish in the Phoenixville region.

Admission is free. However, donations will gladly be accepted. The hike will be canceled if there is a steady rain.

St. Patrick’s Day Ham & Cabbage Meal

On March 17, the New Castle County Irish Society (1301 South Rodney Street, Wilmington, Delaware,  302-658-8288, www.nccirishsociety.org) will hold its “St. Patrick’s Day Ham & Cabbage Meal” from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. The adult platter is $10 and includes coffee or tea and dessert.

The platter for children (ages 8 and under) is $5 and includes dessert but not coffee or tea. The society will also have corn beef sandwiches and ham sandwiches for $4 apiece.

As an added attraction at the holiday meal event, there will be an Irish Dance Program performed by the McAleer School of Dance.

The Garden State Discovery Museum: (2040 Springdale Road, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, 856-424-1233, www.discoverymuseum.com) is presenting a special program with an Irish vibe on March 14 and 15.

In keeping with the arrival of St. Patrick’s Day, the museum is hosting a one-of-a-kind “Leprechaun Hunt.”

From 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. each day, kids will be able to respond to the museum’s invitation to “Wear green and come hunt for your favorite little magical friends all over the museum — and earn gold!”

Admission to the museum is $14.95 for adults and children (12 months and over) and $13.95 for seniors. Children visiting the museum must be accompanied by an adult 18 or older.

Longwood Gardens

Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org) is in the middle of the run of its popular “Orchid Extravaganza” — an annual event that is running through March 22.

The popular site in Kennett Square has responded to the potential Coronavirus pandemic – but not by following the trend to shut down operations.

According to Longwood’s website:

Longwood Gardens is committed to remaining a safe place of beauty and respite for our community.

Our Gardens are open. However, all assembled group activities from March 13-April 22 are canceled.

Out of an abundance of concern for the wellbeing of our guests and community, and in keeping with the CDC’s guidance to practice social distancing, all concerts, tours, onsite classes, Member events, family and student programming, and lectures are canceled.

Online classes and events will continue as scheduled. Refunds will be issued to all ticket buyers for canceled events. We appreciate your understanding and patience during this time of uncertainty.

The health and safety of all who enter our garden gates remains our top priority. We are actively monitoring the spread of COVID-19, working closely with regional and state health agencies, and following the guidelines of the CDC. To proactively protect you and our staff, we are frequently cleaning all surfaces and buildings.

While there are no reported cases in Chester County, we are responding to the impact of the virus in the greater Philadelphia region. Following the City of Philadelphia’s guidelines for group events, we are limiting our onsite capacity to reduce exposure.

We ask that if you are ill or have recently traveled to a region experiencing widespread transmission that you postpone your visit to another time.

The celebration of the orchid species features thousands of orchid blooms along with a variety of displays and special exhibits throughout its four-acre conservatory. “Orchid Extravaganza” will also feature stunning displays of orchids in planting beds, containers and innovative exhibits.

The three largest flowering plant families containing the greatest number of species are the sunflower family (Asteraceae) with about 24,000 species, the orchid family (Orchidaceae) with about 20,000 species, and the legume or pea family (Fabaceae) with 18,000 species.”

The orchid is a flower that is acclaimed as one of the most beautiful, delicate and graceful flowers in the world. The Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew list more than 20,000 accepted species with about 800 new species added each year. Additionally, horticulturists have more than 100,000 hybrids and cultivars.

As one of the first plant collections at Longwood, orchids have held a place of distinction since 1922.

Visitors will be able to escape to a balmy oasis filled with nearly 5,000 blooming orchids during Orchid Extravaganza. Longwood’s heated four-acre Conservatory provides an escape from winter’s chill and features thousands of colorful orchid blooms displayed in extraordinary ways.

In addition to the one-of-a-kind horticultural display, Orchid Extravaganza features activities and programs for the entire family, including concerts, talks, tours, OrKid Days, and more. The Gardens are open daily from 9 am–5 pm.

Guests will be amazed as orchid blooms cascade down walls, spill from containers, and hang from the ceiling– featuring Cattleya, Dendrobium, Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilum, and Oncidium, among others.

In the Main Conservatory, a canopy of pink and purple Orchid Orbs welcomes you to a lush sanctuary of vibrant, artfully presented orchids.

In the Acacia Passage, delicate cascading branches of cinnamon wattle beckons with fragrant blooms, while 18 urns filled with yellow and white Oncidium and Phalaenopsis line this picturesque passageway.

Additional indoor highlights include the Mediterranean Garden featuring a riot of vibrant color January through April with Australian purple coral-pea (Hardenbergia) vines blooming like miniature wisteria. In the Estate Fruit House, nectarines, melons, and other fruits and vegetables flourish in the midst of winter.

Admission to Longwood Gardens is $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and $13 for students.

Hagley Museum and Library

Hagley Museum and Library (Route 141, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-658-2400, www.hagley.org) will be open – sort of.

According to the Hagley Museum website:

For the health and well-being of our community, Hagley is taking measures to support efforts in response to COVID-19. These are in keeping with the CDC’s guidance to practice social distancing.

The following measures have been put into place effective March 13 through April 22, 2020:

Hagley Museum is open for public visitation for walking. Admission will be $7 for adults and $3 for children 6 to 14.

Most buildings will be closed. Buses will not be running and the “upper property” will be closed.  This includes the Eleutherian Mills Residence, garden, First Office, and Barn. The Steam Engine is closed, and modified demonstrations will be conducted in the powder yard.

The Hagley Store and the Hagley Caffé will be closed. Additionally, the Hagley Library will be closed, including on second Saturdays. 

Winterthur (5105 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, Delaware, 800-448-3883, www.winterthur.org) is committed to doing its part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while, at the same time, not ceasing operations.

Winterthur’s response to the Coronavirus invasion is:

We are postponing all public events, programs, and tours and closing our galleries, retail stores and café through April 30. We are working to reschedule events and we will reach out to you with the new dates.

Winterthur gardens and trails remain open for those looking for peace and beauty in these difficult times. The Winterthur Point-to-Point remains scheduled for May 3.

The Brandywine River Museum Brandywine River Museum (Route 1, Chadds Ford 610-388-2700, www.brandywinemuseum.org) is staying the course – cautiously.

According to the Museum’s website:

The Brandywine is dedicated to remaining a safe and welcoming place for our visitors and staff during the heightened vigilance associated with the spread of the infectious disease COVID-19. 

The Brandywine is open during regular hours, and all programs are taking place as scheduled, unless otherwise noted. 

We are closely monitoring the evolving situation and following the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines to proactively protect the health and well-being of our visitors and staff.

We are frequently cleaning our public spaces and surfaces, reminding everyone about the importance of frequent and thorough handwashing and advising staff who may be ill to stay home.

In order to safeguard the health of our staff and other visitors, we ask that you postpone your visit if you are ill with flu-like symptoms, or if you have recently traveled to a region that is experiencing widespread transmission of COVID-19.

On Saturdays and Sundays in March, the Chaddsford Winery (632 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, 610-388-6221, www.chaddsford.com) will present “Sugar and Slice: Donut, Pizza & Wine Pairings.”

According to the Winery’s website:

A message to our customers: we are continuing to monitor the evolving guidance from state and local authorities surrounding the Coronavirus (COVID19) and have the safety of our customers and staff as our primary concern.  As of now, Chaddsford Winery remains open for regular business, 7 days a week. 

Our programs scheduled for this weekend will happen as planned. If anything changes, we will post updates on our website and contact all ticketholders via email.  However, we ask our customers to exercise their best judgement when deciding to attend and to do what makes them most comfortable.

A $25 pass gets visitors access to four flavorful pairings – two donut & wine and two pizza & wine — featuring the winery’s local partners Duck Donuts and Pitruco Pizza. The event will run from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. each day.

The “Pairing Menu” features: Garden Veggie Pizza with ’17 Presage & Chaddsford White; Smoked Sausage Pizza with ’17 Red Standard & Chaddsford Red; Vanilla Caramel Toffee Crunch Donut with ’18 Traminette & Niagara; and Blueberry Powdered Sugar Donut with ’17 Harbinger & Sunset Blush.

This is a “rain or shine” event.

Wonderspaces, an experiential, interactive arts venue, is celebrating its largest location in the country now through March 23 at the Fashion District (27 North 11th Street, Philadelphia, philadelphia.wonderspaces.com/).

Building on the success of annual pop-up shows in San Diego, and its first permanent location in Scottsdale, Arizona, Wonderspaces features a 24,000 square foot gallery space.

Wonderspaces presents 14 art installations that all play with the idea of perspective.  The artwork ranges from award-winning virtual reality short film about a dinner party-turned-alien abduction, to a room where visitors digitally paint the walls with the movement of their bodies.
The first line-up of artwork at Wonderspaces includes: Submergence by Squidsoup, Blooms by John Edmark, Sun by Phillip Schutte, Transition by Mike von Rotz and Joost Jordens, Black Balloons by Tadao Cern, Body Paint by Memo Akten, Come Together by Michael Murphy, The Last Word by Illegal Art, Stories of Mechanical Music by Myriam Bleau, and Myrkviðr by Yasuhiro Chida.

Tickets for Wonderspaces are $24. An average tour of a Wonderspaces show lasts 80-90 minutes but visitors are welcome to stay as long as they want. Tickets are tied to a specific date and time. The number of visitors allowed to enter every fifteen minutes is limited to ensure the space never becomes too crowded.

On March 14, there is an event at the Franklin Institute (271 North 21st Street, Philadelphia, 215-448-1200, www.fi.edu) that would make fans of the iconic TV series “Twin Peaks” immediately think about Agent Cooper.

On Saturday, the museum is celebrating “Pi Day” from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Visitors are invited to explore the countless uses of nature’s most intriguing number (π) with a day of hands-on activities, challenges, and lots, and lots of Pi.

Pi (often represented by the lower-case Greek letter π), one of the most well-known mathematical constants, is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.  For any circle, the distance around the edge is a little more than three times the distance across.

Typing π into a calculator and pressing ENTER will yield the result 3.141592654 — not because this value is exact, but because a calculator’s display is often limited to 10 digits.

Pi is actually an irrational number (a decimal with no end and no repeating pattern) that is most often approximated with the decimal 3.14 or the fraction 227.

Participants in “Pi Day” at the Franklin Institute will be able to enjoy hands-on activities exploring the ways scientists use Pi to better understand different phenomena in nature.

They can grab a digit flag and join a special Pi Day procession through the museum. They will also be able to learn about the brain and memory during memorization challenges.

The celebration will also feature an appearance by “Pi Man,” the irrational Mathematics Superhero who loves all things Pi.

The North American record for digits of Pi recited belongs to Upper Darby’s Marc Umile who recited more than 15,000 digits from memory in 2007. The official world record is held by Lu Chao of China who recited more than 67,000 digits in 2015!

Currently, the Franklin Institute is also presenting an expansive exhibition titled, “The Worst-Case Scenario: Survival Experience” based on the internationally bestselling book series — “The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook.”

With a 76,000-ball pit as its centerpiece, a horizontal climbing wall, a train car jump, lock picking challenges, upside-down tic-tac-toe, and more—this kid-friendly experience immerses you in various challenges to build your survival smarts.

The “Experiences​” include: Escape quicksand, learn to fall safely, and create and survive an avalanche—in the massive ball pit; Use everyday materials like bobby pins to try to pick a lock; Scale a wall horizontally to practice how to survive rising floodwaters and similar dangers; Practice your lie detection ability on a partner; Hop between simulated train car platforms and jump (and roll) to safety; Discover how your mind adjusts to changes in the environment by playing tic-tac-toe while upside-down; and Spin the wheel and uncover what to do when faced with an angry mountain lion, or a herd of elephants in your path.

“The Worst-Case Scenario: Survival Experience” is open now through April 19.

With regard to COVID-19, the Institute’s website posted the following:

The Franklin Institute is working to keep our museum a safe and healthy space and protect the well-being of our visitors, staff, and volunteers, which is our top priority. 

The Franklin Institute is open, and all events and programs are taking place as scheduled. However, we are closely monitoring the latest developments regarding the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus through updates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization, and the Department of Health at both the city and state level. 

We are following CDC guidelines to proactively protect our visitors and staff and have taken the following precautionary measures — Advanced cleaning protocols, which increase the frequency and level of cleaning and disinfecting in all areas of the museum—from exhibits to staff offices; Increased supply of hand sanitizer stations throughout the museum; and Frequent communication and education from staff scientists and local experts on preventing infection spread— both on the museum floor and through our digital channels.

As a reminder, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of respiratory diseases — Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth; Avoid close contact with people who are sick; Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care; Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands; Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you touch. 

The Franklin Institute’s general admission is $30 for adults and $26 for children (ages 3-11).

With all these events, the situation could change at any time. With little advance notice, an “open” event could become a “canceled” event. So, calling ahead for updated information before you leave home is highly recommended. It could possibly save you a wasted trip.

In the meantime – Wash your hands!

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