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Enchanted Forest Employee Reunion promises to be magical [Ellicott City]

Calling all Enchanted Forest Little Bo Peeps, Cinderellas and Little Red Riding Hoods!

The sixth annual Enchanted Forest Employee Reunion will be held Aug. 17, noon to 4 p.m, at Clark's Elioak Farm. Help spread the word to anyone you think worked at the Enchanted Forest theme park. Former park employees will receive free admission to the farm.

"They always have such great stories about working at the Enchanted Forest," said Martha Clark, of Clark's Elioak Farm, about the annual event.

The reunions provide a wonderful way for Enchanted Forest employees to reconnect with old friends and reminisce about working at the children's theme park — which at the time was a revolutionary new idea.

When it opened in 1955, Enchanted Forest was the first storybook land on the East Coast and the second in the nation where children could climb aboard rides like the Little Toot tugboat, Mother Goose and Ali Baba or encounter animals like peacocks and burros. Disneyland in California opened one month earlier in July 1955.

To the dismay of many Marylanders, the Ellicott City theme park closed in 1989. However, many of the park's beloved figures were moved to nearby Clark's Elioak Farm, where they were lovingly restored and displayed to the delight of new generations. Even today, the farm is a popular destination that evokes the whimsical spirit of the iconic park.

The spirit of the park also lives on in a new book, "The Enchanted Forest: Memories of Maryland's Storybook Park," by Clark and local author (and fellow Howard County Times columnist) Janet Kusterer, who writes the Times' Mostly Main Street column. The publication traces the park's history through vintage images and interviews with the Harrison family, who built and owned the park, former employees and visitors.

As part of the Enchanted Forest 58th Birthday Celebration weekend at the farm, authors Clark and Kusterer will be signing their new book on Aug. 17 and 18, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The birthday celebration weekend also includes vintage Enchanted Forest photos and a DVD of the Enchanted Forest on view; face painting; hay, pony and cow train rides; the petting farm; children's dress-up costumes; fairy tale readings; craft making; and, of course, special visits from princesses.

For more information about the celebration weekend at Clark's Elioak Farm, go to the farm's website at http://www.clarklandfarm.com and click the "special weekend events" tab. Former Enchanted Forest employees can R.S.V.P. for the reunion party at clarkselioakfarm@hotmail.com.

The free outdoor Sunset Serenades concert series will come to an end with the last summer performance on Wednesday, Aug. 7, at 7 p.m. The final concert will feature the reggae group Proverbs. Bring a blanket or lawn chair, a picnic supper, rent a canoe or paddleboat and enjoy the sounds of summer by the lake.

The entrance is at Centennial Park South at 1000 Route 108 in Ellicott City. Admission is free, but a parking donation of $3 per car is requested.

A number of Ellicott City elementary schools are holding summer playdates to help students meet new friends or stay connected with old ones.

St. John's Lane Elementary School's PTA Welcoming Committee is hosting several social playdates at the school playground for students entering the following grades: Tuesday, Aug. 6, 6:30 p.m. (kindergarten); Aug. 15, 6:30 p.m. (first grade); Aug. 17, 9 a.m.(second grade); Aug. 10, 9 a.m. (third grade); and Aug. 7, 6:30 p.m. (fourth and fifth grade).

Weather permitting, the Waverly Elementary School PTA's playdates for all grades is on Thursday, Aug. 1, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Aug 13, from 10 to 11 a.m. on the school playground.

The PTA Welcoming Committee at Worthington Elementary School is sponsoring playdates for incoming kindergarten students and their families at Rockburn Park (behind Rockburn Elementary by the tennis/basketball courts). Kindergarten families are welcome to attend one or all of the gatherings on Aug. 10, from 10 to 11:30 a.m.; Aug. 13, from 10 to 11:30 a.m.; and Aug. 22, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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