Children step into prehistoric times for Dino Day at the French Creek Nature Center


Dinosaur fans gathered for an afternoon of thunder lizard enthusiasm on January 8 at the French Creek Nature Center in Lorain County Metro Parks.

Dino Day sold out as families went out for a scavenger hunt, arts and crafts with coloring, music, videos, and a chance to meet Kitty, the park district’s resident baby Tyrannosaurus rex.

Will Potts, the paleontology expert of the day and chief dinosaur master, warmed up the crowd with anecdotes and prizes. His questions explained the differences between species of dinosaurs and between herbivores, or plant eaters, and carnivores, which eat meat.

He featured the show’s star carnivore – Kitty, a reproduction of a T-rex who, even as a youngster, was taller than Potts.

Kitty has some serious teeth, but was submissive enough that a lucky volunteer gave her a steak.

Elyria’s Brittany Laseke holds her nephew, Jackson Morton, 9 months old, while her nephew Michael Morton, 2, works on a craft during the Dino Day activity on January 8, 2022 at the Lorain County Metro Parks French Creek Nature Center in Sheffield Town . (Richard Payerchin – The Morning Journal)

“Working with our staff to put this show up is really fun because I’m a theater person and that’s what I do, so planning is always fun because you can anticipate, like, oh now kids are going to scream and then that’s when you say that, ”Moran said with a laugh.

Participants spread out around the nature center and were asked to wear masks due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Elyria’s Brittany Laseke holds her nephews, Michael Morton, 2, and Jackson Morton, 9 months, for a portrait with Kitty, the baby Tyrannosaurus rex resident of Lorain County Metro Parks, during the Dino Day event on January 8, 2022 at the French Creek Nature Center in Sheffield Village. Will Potts, who plays the chief paleontologist and dinosaur master, watches. (Richard Payerchin – The Morning Journal)

But COVID-19 didn’t seem to scare dinosaur fans. After the start of the new year, registrations have exploded, said Erin Moran, cultural arts and nature programmer at the center, 4530 Colorado Ave., Sheffield Village.

The program sold 125 reservations and had a waiting list of 90, so Moran predicted the park district would have another Dino Day in the future.

“I think we have to do it,” Moran said. “With 90 people on the waiting list, I think it’s only fair to offer it soon and again so that these people get

Michael Morton, 2, works on a craft under the watchful eye of his grandmother, Tina LaPlante, during the Dino Day activity on January 8, 2022 at the Lorain County Metro Parks French Creek Nature Center in Sheffield Village. The program was full with 125 reservations and 90 on the waiting list for an afternoon of dinosaur adventures. (Richard Payerchin – The Morning Journal)

a chance. I hate to think that we have to turn people away today, but we can’t accommodate that many, so I would like to do it again soon so people have another chance.

Elyria’s Brittany and David Laseke dated Brittany’s mother, Tina LaPlante, and their nephews, Michael Morton, 2, and Jackson Morton, 9 months, LaPlante’s grandsons. The boys wore matching dinosaur-print warm-up suits, which were Christmas presents at the end of 2021.

It was the family’s first adventure to the French Creek Nature Center for a program. “It’s funny. Michael likes it,” said Brittany Laseke.


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