Author Archives: Eric Jackson, Director of Education

About Eric Jackson, Director of Education

Director of Education Powell Gardens, Inc.

Meet an instructor: Janalea Hoffman and her native flute

The vast selection of classes and workshops we offer at Powell Gardens is possible thanks to our partnerships with area experts and instructors who share their knowledge of watercolor, basketry, yoga and more.

This month, meet Janalea Hoffman, instructor of both the ‘Learn to Play the Native Flute’ and ‘The Healing Concert’ workshops. Hoffman operates the music-therapy company Rhythmic Medicine, which provides workshops and music therapy-related services to the Kansas City area. She is the author of the book “Rhythmic Medicine: Music With A Purpose,” and has published 14 therapeutic music CDs.

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February is for Bird Lovers at Powell Gardens

Bird watching is a favorite winter pastime of many, myself included. Nothing beats sitting inside with a warm cup of coffee on a cold winter morning, watching birds jockey for a turn at the seed hopper.

February at Powell Gardens offers birding enthusiasts of all ages the chance to view our feathered friends in the comfort of our “Bird Café.” While Café Thyme is closed through February, the seating has been arranged to afford birders an unobstructed view of our feeding stations. Tube and suet feeders, a bird bath and scattered seed invite birds of many types of feather. Continue reading

A Halloween Tradition 25 Years in the Making

In 1986, Powell Gardens was in its infancy and Halloween Spooktacular was just one of several harvest-time events. Twenty-five years later, the event has become a treasured Halloween tradition for families across the region and we’re looking forward to celebrating its silver anniversary on Oct. 14 and 15.

In the early years, registration was limited to 30 participants. Volunteers and staff pitched in to create costumes, write skits and act out fairy tales for young trick-or-treaters.

Spooktacular in 1996

A scene from 1996.

Last year, more than 850 children and adults came to enjoy the family-friendly stories and the lighted walk.

 Crowd shot

 This year more than150 hand-carved pumpkins and more than a mile of twinkle lights will illuminate the evening.

Jack O Lanterns light the path

For this silver anniversary Powell Gardens will include both new and all-time favorite skits.
Alice in Wonderland skit

Pulling together a large event like Spooktacular takes many hands and lots of volunteer and staff hours.

Photo by David Larson

In 2010, the evening walk was highlighted by 170 hand-carved pumpkins that weighed in at more than 4,300 pounds! Over the past five years, a team of volunteers from Assurant has joined PowellGardens’ core volunteers and staff to carve the pumpkins in just six hours.
Volunteers carving pumpkins 
Each pumpkin becomes its own work of art as volunteers use pumpkin carving templates or their own imaginations to create an astounding variety of Jack-O-Lanterns. Dremel tools and jigsaws are carving tools of choice.
Jack O Lanterns
Children treasure the retelling of favorite stories during 11 skits along the 1-mile walk, while clean jokes are slipped in to the amusement of adults. Director of Education Eric Jackson creates new skits as well as rewrites old favorites every year, so each visit is fresh for returning families. Children help the characters in each skit solve a problem of some kind, and at the conclusion, are rewarded with a treat.
Three Bears Skit
Last year, 50 volunteers a night filled acting and support roles with many coming from six area school districts and two area community theater groups. Some “veteran” actors have literally grown up acting in Spooktacular, starting in middle school and coming back as schedules permit while in college.

Photo by David Larson

Don’t miss out on the 25th anniversary of this magical event. Call Linda at 816-697-2600 ext. 209 to purchase your tickets and schedule your tour time. Tours begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14, and at 6 p.m. Saturday. Oct. 15. To allow more children to participate, please limit reservations to two adults per child. Pricing is $12/Adults, $9/kids ages 5-12 or $9/Members, $7/Member’s kids ages 5-12; an extra $2 fee will apply to all tickets purchased after Oct. 10. We can’t wait to see you in the Gardens!