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Downtown Offers Personalized Father's Day-Themed Activities and Gifts

by on June 13, 2014 2:50 PM

Addison Black, a four-year-old bundle of excitement, examined a selection of colored construction paper in State College’s Christian Science Reading Room on Friday afternoon.

“Green!” she exclaims, decisively snapping up a forest-hued piece of paper. Her mother, Jennifer Black, approves of the color choice, saying that Addison’s father would surely like it.

Abby Martin, a reading room volunteer, says that the religious organization has been providing free materials for children to make their own father’s day cards for the five years she’s been donating her time.

“We often have activities for kids on days like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day,” Martin says. “We want them to have a place they can come and have fun.”

Sisters Ashlyn and Roselyn Tonaus, both two years old, seemed to fulfill this goal. In between playing with a set of toys, they giggled and laughed while making their own Father’s Day cards.

“I thought ‘let’s try making some cards to get their creative minds at work,'” their mother Sherin Tonaus says. “It’s going to be a surprise for their dad.”

Though Ashlyn’s and Roselyn’s cards –  streaked in neon marker and covered in stickers –  may not resemble a traditional Fathers’ Day card, they reflect the excitement and personality of their creators.

Before stopping in at the reading room, the Black family (sans father) also stopped by at the nearby Growing Tree Toys store and the paint-your-own-pottery studio 2000 Degrees for other Father’s Day festivities.

Outside the toy store, employee Tiffany Card stood behind a table set up on the sidewalk where children could make their own concrete handprints and decorate them with colored stones.

Card says the activity is just one of the “kidtivities” Growing Tree offers during the summer. Though the handprint station isn’t explicitly a Father’s Day event, Card says it’s purposefully timed to give families the option of using the handprint as a personalized gift.

“As the local toy store, we want to be able to provide something fun for kids to do downtown,” Card says, adding that 60 children had registered to make a handprint.

Larissa Mariani, a 2000 Degrees Studio assistant, says events like Father’s Day and other holidays typically bring increased business to the pottery studio. She thinks the chance to craft gifts is more personal than many store-bought presents.

“We do all the firing work, but you’re the one that comes in and creates with no limitations on what you can do,” Mariani says. “It’s very personal.”

Saylor Milhomme, a young girl with a mane of wild hair, was among the studio’s pre-Father’s Day customers. With her brows furrowed in a focused stare, she slathered layers of brown paint onto a ceramic dog for her father. 

“I’m giving this to my daddy because he’s special and puppies are special and sleepy and daddy is a big sleepyhead,” she said matter-of-factly, before returning to her work.

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Michael Martin Garrett is a general assignment reporter for StateCollege.com, a graduate of Penn State and a published poet. He's also a musician who plays bass in an indie rock band.
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