Holiday Expeditions Teams with Clark Planetarium on New Star-Gazing Trips

Veteran adventure travel company, Holiday River Expeditions (http://www.bikeraft.com/), clusters spokes with stars and river canyons with constellations in a new trip line-up for 2016.

Its new Dark Sky Stargazing Trip Series in cooperation with Salt Lake City’s Clark Planetarium includes both mountain biking and whitewater rafting programs with a night-time focus expected to include, among others, Saturn, the Milky Way, Whirlpool and Sombrero galaxies, Hercules Globular Cluster, iridium flares and Earth-born satellites.

“Each night on these bike and river trips we will attempt to find and identify stars, constellations, planets, galaxies, nebulas, clusters and satellites. More importantly, we’ll use those objects to talk about the structure of our galaxy, the origin and future of the universe, our place in the cosmos,” says Tom Beckett, board chair of Clark Planetarium and part-time guide for Holiday River Expeditions. “Much of Earth is losing its dark night skies to light pollution and many Americans never have a chance to see the Milky Way. However, the rivers we run, and the trails we bike are all desolate and have some of the darkest night skies on the planet.”

The series begins in early May and runs through early October. Each trip takes place during the “New Moon” phase for the darkest sky. Three of four trips are in Canyonlands National Park designated as a gold-tier “dark sky” park. A Clark Planetarium representative will accompany each trip. Guests camp under the stars. Trail and river-side meals have garnered rave reviews.

The new trip series includes:

White Rim Trail Mountain Biking in Canyonlands National Park explores Canyonlands NP, recently certified as a “Dark Sky Park” by the International Dark Sky Association.  Luminaries to be revealed include the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy, among others. While looking up, guests will stand 1,000 feet above the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers. The group meets up at Holiday River Expeditions headquarters in Green River, UT.  A two-hour van ride to the head of the Shafer Trail marks the start of the trip. After that it’s pedal power on some of the most technically challenging mountain bike trails in the country. A telescope accompanies the guests. Scheduled trips are May 7-9 and Oct. 1-4 and the per person rate is from $750.

Green River through Lodore Canyon in Dinosaur National Monument is a July 5-8 river rafting departure through a protected region recognized by the National Park Service as a “Sanctuary of Natural Darkness.” This trip connects to ghosts of river-runners and canyon dwellers of the past while escaping into deep-red cliffs and exhilarating whitewater. With binoculars and the naked eye guests explore the Milky Way, see the Andromeda Galaxy, watch satellites and meteors, and learn the constellations. The per person rate is from $935.

Colorado River through Cataract Canyon in Canyonlands National Park is an Aug. 1-6 departure cradled in Canyonlands National Park. Again the Andromeda Galaxy, satellites and meteors take center stage at night. Days are spent luxuriating in the sunshine, exploring ancient side-canyons (many with rock art and ruins) and facing some of the biggest whitewater in North America. The per person rate is from $1,175.

“It’s a natural partnership,” says Beckett. “Clark Planetarium’s mission is to teach science and astronomy. Holiday’s mission is to take people into the wilderness and teach them about the natural world.  Working together, Holiday and Clark can offer multi-night star parties in the wilderness, where the night skies are darkest and the daytime scenery is simply out of this world.”

About Clark Planetarium, Salt Lake City: Clark Planetarium is one of the world’s leading centers for space and science education.  Clark Planetarium’s mission is to create and present stimulating educational programs that effectively share astronomy and space exploration information with Salt Lake County residents, Utah students, educators and families, and visitors from around the country and the world. For more information visit www.clarkplanetarium.org

About Holiday River Expeditions
Holiday River Expeditions (http://www.bikeraft.com/) began in 1966, when Dee Holladay and his wife Sue took the plunge to become river outfitters. Due to its respect for the lands, rivers, guests and employees, the family-owned-and-operated company has grown exponentially. Each of its guides is professionally trained in first aid and river safety, and with 50 years of experience, the company provides guests the opportunity to explore the nation’s wild lands safely and securely. Holiday River Expeditions has a commitment to protect the environment through education and conservation, and as such, uses oar-powered and paddle rafts exclusively.

For more information, availability, reservations or a copy of the 2016 catalog please call 800-624-6323, Email: Holiday@BikeRaft.com or log onto: http://www.bikeraft.com/.

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Chamber of Horrors NY’s Holiday Horror Show is Produced by Award Winning Make-Up Artist

It takes an elite team to prepare for Long Islands only off season holiday horror show, Chamber of Horrors NY A Very Scary XMAS. With the right amount of fake blood and perfect airbrush techniques, an artist can transform any human into a creepy Christmas creature. Chamber of Horror’s head make-up artist, Stephanie Sabolenko, won first place at the pristine NY Horror Show King and Queen SFX make up competition. With the most talented make-up artists in the haunt industry, Chamber of Horrors promises double the fear as you are stalked by Santa and his minions of cannibalistic elves, zombie snowmen and other twisted Christmas characters.

Haunting is one of the most unique jobs that provides a world of social and real-life networking opportunities. A self-taught SPFX make-up artist from Mastic Beach Long Island, Sabolenko goes by the nickname Bloody Sabo. She started haunt make-up right from her kitchen table with a little latex and toilet paper. Today she is a master at sculpting and creating original looks and designs for Chamber of Horrors NY. A Very Scary XMAS Part 2 includes every aspect of haunt make-up, beauty, gore and fantasy face painting.
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The haunt is not a holiday show for the faint-hearted, but rather an interactive theatrical experience. A VERY SCARY XMAS PART 2 is designed to scare your stockings off.  As participants go room to room, the settings and characters get progressively more frightening. Santa is skipping town and bringing a new tradition to the holidays: the spirit of fear.
Christmas and H0-H0-H0RROR go together perfectly during A VERY SCARY XMAS PART 2, featuring Nightmare on 34th St. and The Elf Asylum. The Christmas fright fest will take place on December 11th, 12th, 18th and 19th. Admission tickets are currently being sold on the Chamber of Horrors NY Website for $25 and include a picture with Santa.

Chamber of Horrors NY Brings Fear to the Spirit of Christmas

Long Island’s only off season holiday horror show, Chamber of Horrors NY, is bringing Santa back to make sure haunt goers continue to fear the naughty list. Christmas and H0-H0-H0RROR go together perfectly during A VERY SCARY XMAS PART 2, featuring Nightmare on 34th St. and The Elf Asylum. The haunt promises double the fear as you are stalked by Santa and his minions of cannibalistic elves, zombie snowmen and other twisted Christmas characters.

A VERY SCARY XMAS PART 2 is designed to scare your stockings off.  As participants go room to room, the settings and characters get progressively more frightening. The haunt is not a holiday show for the faint-hearted, but rather an interactive theatrical experience. Santa is skipping town and bringing a new tradition to the holidays: the spirit of fear.
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A few chills on Christmas aren’t completely outside of the spirit of the holiday. It may be hard to believe, but the evolution of haunted houses began during The Dark Ages, where Christians literally scared people into believing their message. Pageant wagons toured the lands performing plays that often included the scarier parts of biblical stories. Similar to haunts, attendees enjoyed the scares and gore right along with the morals.
Beginning with the dark Dickens morality tale “A Christmas Carol,” Hollywood has continued to notice the evolving trend of horror during the holidays. This year, Krampus, a demonic child-eating goat is coming to punish misbehaved children.
The Christmas fright fest will take place on December 11th, 12th, 18th and 19th. Admission tickets are currently being sold on the Chamber of Horrors NY Website for $25 and include a picture with Santa.

How To Make Family Focus A New Year’s Resolution In 2015

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Anyone with kids knows how crazy life can get. Between work, school, sports, extra-curricular activities, doctor appointments and anything else that has both parents running five different directions at once, family time has dwindled for many. Sometimes it’s non-existent. Make one of your resolutions for 2015 putting more focus on your family. The experts at Kinsights.com – an advice-sharing and personal information storing network for parents – are here with suggestions to help you stick to your resolution.

Raising healthy well adjusted kids takes a lot of energy.  Working parents can feel like they are being pulled in multiple directions simultaneously which can be stressful and have an adverse impact on kids.  Whether you are a single parent or a dual income family, balancing family and career can be challenging.  Check out these family friendly tips to bring structure to a fragmented lifestyle:

Be present – Parents have to work, that is just a fact of life.  Kids sometimes feel neglected when both parents work. Juggling family and career can create a hectic home life and kids can easily sense when they are not at the top of the priority list.  Stress at work can also rear its ugly head at home by giving in to short tempers and using harsh words.  The best way to build a harmonious home life is to be present when you’re home.  Check the worries of the day at the door and be intentional about focusing on the kids.  Eating dinner together and having a bedtime ritual the kids can count on will help reinforce how much they are loved and cared for.

Validate your child’s feelings – Encourage your kids to talk about how they feel when you have to work long hours.  Validate how they feel and speak in terms that are age appropriate.  Create rules for home that exclude bringing work home.  If work must to be done, make sure it’s completed after the kids are tucked into bed.  Make family time a priority.  Eating dinner together as a family may not always be possible so schedule a family night once a week to do activities together as a family. Having something positive for the kids to look forward to will help balance out the negative feelings they may experience while you’re away at work.

Create quality time – When kids are young, early bedtimes play a role in how much family time is available during the week. Make the most of the time you have with the kids by turning off technology and making them feel like they are your only priority after work.  Be intentional about your family plan and schedule time for the things that are truly important.  Kids don’t understand the difference between quality and quantity time when they are little so it’s important to make all of the time you spend together quality time.  Create an atmosphere of love and explain everyone’s role in the family.  For mommy and daddy, one of those roles is earning money, etc.

Have an afterschool plan – Latch key kids are still at risk if there is no adult supervision after school.  Kids should not be left on their own to raise themselves.  Kids with two working parents can suffer when it comes time to do homework and getting the help they need to succeed.  If both parents work, make sure there is a plan in place to help your child get homework done by hiring a tutor after school, using school provided services or enlisting a family member to help.

Focus on benefits – Increased income generated by both parents working can create additional opportunities for kids that might not otherwise be possible.  Traveling as a family, taking art or music classes, or even attending private schools can be a benefit of both parents working.  Children with working parents also are exposed to other social settings which can spark emotional and social development.  Kids in households with two working parents learn at a young age that other adults can care for them and meet their needs.

Recent studies show that two income households can produce happy, confident, well-adjusted kids.  Focus on what is right for you whether that means pursuing a career or staying at home, kids will notice and respond accordingly.

Fortunately, there are a number of handy tools available for working parents. like Kinsights.com.  Besides being an online community full of advice for parents, Kinsights provides you with the opportunity to store and keep track of your kids medical information, in a completely secure and free manner. Not only can both parents have quick and easy access to this information, but you can also export and print it so you can have it on hand when you’re traveling or to pass along to a sitter, grandparent, or new doctor.   

We all know resolutions are hard to keep. Many get broken. Make sure focusing on your family is the one you do keep. Your family depends on it.

Voting underway till January 1 for favorite boat in Pompano Beach Boat Parade

2015 Battery Tender MX-5 Cup Logo

With so many great entries into the 52nd Annual Greater Pompano Beach Boat Parade this year, it will be hard for voters to decide their favorite. Held every year in mid-December, this year the committee added a People’s Choice Award to recognize the community’s favorite boat and voting continues through January 1 at the parade’s Facebook page: PompanoBeachBoatParade or through this link: http://woobox.com/6bt8w7.

“I had a fantastic time and I want to do it again next year,” said Bob Gihon who steered ‘Of Coors Knot’ through the parade after changing plans from going to the keys to participating with visiting relatives.

Luis Colman who has a 13′ Boston Whaler and was another first timer said “I love being part of it and am already planning next year’s look. Thanks again for letting me be a part of it.”

Colman was one of close to 40 participants who oohed and aahed spectators during the parade, and everyone who watched and participated remarked on what a fabulous parade it was this year.

“We were thrilled that Dr. Brian Rask of Reel Priority encouraged us to move from spectators to participants in this year’s (parade),” said Christina Clifford of the boat Seven C’s. “My brother and sister-in-law, who are new to the area, were impressed with the community support and my brother joked that his arm got tired from waving at the spectators who lined nearly every inch of the seawall.”

“My 2 1/2 year old son couldn’t stop grinning and waving which tells me that the parade quickly became our new family-friendly holiday tradition,” Clifford continues. “We also felt that the event was well-organized and that the Coast Guard and BSO did a great job of making us feel safe and informed on the water.”

Voting is already underway online, and closes January 1. Stop by the Chamber Facebook page and vote for your favorite today. https://www.facebook.com/PompanoBeachBoatParade

Join The South Florida Museum for an Extraordinary Astronomical Exploration of the Star of Bethlehem

The Star of Bethlehem has been a popular topic at planetarium shows since the 1940s, with hosts presenting explanations that would account for the star described in the nativity story in the Christian tradition. Was the star a comet, a supernova, something else entirely, these shows ask.

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At the South Florida Museum, Astronomer Howard Hochhalter goes beyond this traditional planetarium presentation to take guests on a “forensic” journey of the Star of Bethlehem that compares historical records to what was really happening in the skies some 2,000 years ago.
“I really wanted to take our guests a step beyond just talking about things traditionally covered in planetarium shows about the star — the idea that the star was a comet or supernova. Those explanations are a bit more fluff and don’t really present a compelling connection to the events of the time,” Hochhalter said. “Instead, with our system in the Bishop Planetarium, I can take our guests back in time to show them what was really happening in the skies above Babylon and Palestine between 7-1 B.C.E.”
In addition to exploring the movements of the planets, Hochhalter also explores the cultural meaning that those living in the period would have attached to changes in the skies. For example, Hochhalter said, Jupiter and Venus were doing some interesting things (you’ll have to attend the show to find out just what!). “Jupiter was believed to be the king of the ‘wandering stars’ — which we know today as planets. And another wandering star, Venus, symbolized fertility and motherhood. The motion of these wandering stars had enormous meaning and potential consequence to the Magi watching the skies 2,000 years ago.”
The “Star of Bethlehem” explores the question “What was the Star of Bethlehem?” with Astronomer Howard Hochhalter, who leads guests on this journey to Jerusalem 2,000 years ago using the Planetarium’s ability to travel through time and space.
It will take place at 5:30 and 7:30 pm Wednesday and Thursday December 17 and 18 in the South Florida Museum’s Bishop Planetarium, 201 10th Street West Bradenton, Fla., 34205. It costs $5 for Museum Members; $8 for non-members. You can purchase tickets now at SouthFloridaMuseum.org or call 941-746-4131, ext. 17
Throughout December, the South Florida Museum is also offering special showings in the Planetarium of “Let it Snow,” a 32-minute multi-media special that includes festive holiday musical  classics that are visually enhanced through animation, special effects and all-dome scenery.  Featuring a variety of festive classics from Frank Sinatra and Chuck Berry to Burl Ives and Brenda Lee, ‘Let it Snow’ includes a stunning multi-media finale by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The soundtrack is visually enhanced with thematic animation, special effects and all-dome scenery. The 32-minute program is a fun and entertaining experience for all ages, especially families.

The program will take place at 2:15 pm Tuesdays-Fridays; 11:15 am Saturdays and 12:30 p.m. Sundays through December 28. (Note: The Museum is closed on Dec. 25.) in the South Florida Museum’s Bishop Planetarium, 201 10th Street West Bradenton, FL, 34205. The price is included in the price of general admission.  Admission is $18 for adults; $16 for seniors 65 and older; $14 for children ages 4 to 12. Children 3 and younger and Museum Members always get in free. Purchase admission tickets online now at SouthFloridaMuseum.org.
The largest natural and cultural history museum on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the South Florida Museum offers engaging exhibits as well as educational programs which interpret the scientific and cultural knowledge of Florida, the world and our universe. In addition to the permanent exhibits, the Museum features a constantly changing lineup of temporary exhibitions – offering something new to discover with each visit. The facility also includes both the all-digital Bishop Planetarium Theater and the Parker Manatee Aquarium. Outfitted with a brand new, state-of-the-art Planetarium and projection system in October of 2013, the NEW Bishop Planetarium is the region’s premier astronomy education facility with stunning new multimedia capabilities. The Parker Manatee Aquarium is home to Snooty™, Manatee County’s official mascot and the oldest known manatee in the world. Snooty shares his Aquarium pool with young manatees from the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership. These injured or orphaned animals are taken care of by the Parker Aquarium staff until they are ready to be released into the wild. For more information about current exhibitions and special programs, membership, hours, or admission prices please call 941-746-4131 or visit SouthFloridaMuseum.org/.