This year we are excited Anisa Raoof, our longtime partner at KidoInfo will be joining us as a guest reader at Spooky Storytime + Haunted Art in the Park. This event is a favorite for the entire DPPC staff, as well as our partners that we collaborate with each year. We sat down with Anisa to chat with her about Spooky Storytime, and partnering with us on our free family programming over the years.
How is Spooky Storytime + Haunted Art in the Park different in 2017 than when you first got involved?
It’s actually not very different than it was in the beginning, it’s always been a fabulous event for families! Spooky Storytime was the brain child of DPPC Program Director Jen Smith and Art in the Park cofounder Alison Paul, an incredibly creative duo building off our popular summer Storytime + Art in the Park. Alison and Jen don’t do something half way, it was pretty WOW to begin with. Right from the beginning, this event was designed to be interactive, not-too-spooky, and turned Burnside Park into a fun and creative place for kids and caregivers to gather. And as the amenities in the park have grown over the years, it has made it easier to grow the programming and be more obvious that this is a welcoming place for families. The Imagination Center has created a place to not only store all the programming supplies like books, pillows, chairs, art supplies, games and props, but also provides another stage for the kids and partial shelter from inclement weather.
KidoInfo covers kids events around Providence and all of Rhode Island. What makes the events in Burnside Park special?
I am a big fan of the events that take place in Burnside Park since KidoInfo has been a partner and advisor since its inception. From the beginning, Jen Smith and I shared a vision of what family programming should look like in the park. Under her direction, the programming has grown, bringing in more and more kids and caregivers and transforming the park into a welcoming safe space for families. Storytime and Art in the Park are more than just reading, but connecting kids to some of Rhode Island’s best storytellers, authors and illustrators. Being outside gets kids involved in the storytelling physically and creatively. The programming allows the kids to experience events in their own way, and are never overly prescribed. Kids all hear the same story, but then are free to react to it in their own way. Some may sing, others may run around, or others may just find a quiet spot. These events are free and easily accessible by public transportation. I also love the cool urban setting of Greater Kennedy Plaza. There are buses going by, the fountain is bubbling away and people are passing through the park on the way to work. It adds a level of excitement to the events.
What is one of the biggest accomplishments you’ve witnessed over the years in Burnside Park?
During my time working with Jen and the DPPC team, I’ve seen Burnside Park transform into a place that people don’t just pass through, but come together in and make memories together. Before the DPPC began its stewardship of the park, people didn’t see this space as a place where families would hang out. However, with the intentionality of the programming, and then the investments made first in the Imagination Center, and this year in the new playground, Burnside Park has become a place where people come together any day of the week. Unlike some of the smaller neighborhood parks, Burnside Park really is the city’s park – providing a green oasis amidst the city scape of tall buildings. It’s here for everyone, a place where kids from all different neighborhoods and tourists play together in one space.
Do you have a favorite Spooky Storytime costume that sticks out in your head from over of the years?
Every year I always love the creative handmade costumes that kids show up in. One year in particular, a little girl dressed up as a falcon. She had a head dress and when she raised her arms she had these beautiful, incredible wings. It was great!
Spooky Storytime 2016 with Ricky Katowicz, Anisa Raoof, Alison Paul, Jen Corace & Jen Smith
We hope you’ll join us for KidoInfo Spooky Storytime + Haunted Art in the Park this Saturday, October 28 from 10:30 – 1:30. For more information about the event, visit our Facebook page. Unsure where to park? You can take public transportation to Kennedy Plaza. For information on parking, visit the Park Downtown Providence website.