Aliens must have been real because they were present all around the Santa Clarita Old Town Newhall Library on Saturday. The 16th annual Family Literacy Festival opened the doors to a crowd of 1,000 to celebrate literacy.
“We expect like over a thousand people to come and find out a little bit more about their local library as well as other local organizations that are promoting either literacy or just free things for the community as well,” said event organizer Aley Ungerman.
The annual event brought out many avenues, other than reading, for the celebration: photo booths, hands-on crafting, character experiences and the Wonder Wheels attraction. Wonder Wheels allowed for attendees to explore a fire engine, California Highway Patrol cruiser and a Burrtec trash truck.
Parent attendee Linda Campbell just moved to Santa Clarita from Virgina in August. Campbell heard from other kindergarten moms about the event and was excited to learn more about Santa Clarita’s offerings. Her daughter was most excited to meet Princess Peach.
“First impression, it’s amazing here,” said Campbell. “They also have the free books over there, so we took we took one of the free books, so it’s nice to just come and leave with the book so easily … My husband actually just got memberships for all of us … We’re just impressed with this event.”
“Take Me to Your Reader” was this year’s theme for the event. The event takes months to plan and coordinate, but picking out the theme has been a joy for the library staff.
“We try to plan a theme every year that is something that everyone of all ages can enjoy, so that’s our main goal with our theme picking,” said Ungerman. “I mean, who doesn’t love aliens?”
Just a short hike up the stairs, kids could explore three sensory activity rooms: They could explore the planets’ surfaces jumping from ball to ball, carve out their own exploration path out of kinetic sand and color space.
Raquel Castillo, a parent attendee, praised Santa Clarita for its accessibility to events like this for valley residents.
“It’s free, so it’s awesome to come and bring the kids,” said Castillo.
Castillo’s son has been getting into books, even though he can’t actually read just yet, and loved that the event celebrated just that.
The event is one of, if not the most, popular for the library. The staff’s goal is to just expose the community to everything that they offer through something engaging for the kids.
“We really want our community to know about their local library because we provide so many free resources for the community,” said Ungerman. “We want people to know that of course, we have books and materials for people to check out, but we have even more programs, activities, online resources and lots of fun things to do at the library year-round.”