A quarter of a century — that’s how old Hands On! turns this year, and staff, parents, and, of course, kids took part in the museum’s birthday celebration Friday.
For Johnson City natives, Hands On! Regional Museum, 315 E. Main St., has become a fixture for field trips and group outings, but Friday night was one huge party.
Ginna Kennedy, executive director of Hands On! said they decided to schedule the party this week because of the traffic they’d receive from the First Friday visitors and wanting to have just one big celebration. The museum’s actual birthday is on Sept. 17.
“We have birthday cake, we’ve got trucks out on the street little kids can climb in. We’re going to do Mentos geysers, just all kinds of really fun stuff,” Kennedy said. “There are way more people than I was expecting, so it’s a little bit crazy in here, but that’s OK. That’s a good thing. We’re built for crazy.”
Ginger Pratt said the Hands On! birthday party was something her son, Jaden, had been looking forward to all day. She said the Touch-a-Truck event in front of the museum served as an added bonus for her son as well, who loves exploring the big pieces of machinery.
“He would come here every weekend if I would let him,” Pratt said. “He just loves it. Everything here he likes to touch and play and meet new friends. He just has a good time. It is a good, safe place for your kids.”
Dylan Branham had his own tour guide while investigating the highlights of the museum –– his mom.
Autumn Branham said she was born within the year Hands On! was first started and has made plenty of memories in the museum herself, remembering the fish tank and the glow room as some of her favorite sections as a kid.
Bringing Dylan, along with her husband, James, is a special moment, Branham said.
“We get to share memories that I had and now he (Dylan) gets to share in those. I think it’s pretty cool,” she said.
Other activities available for the kids included art activities with the Johnson City Area Arts Council, temporary tattoos and for $15, kids could tie-dye a 25th Birthday T-shirt.
Food City also donated a birthday cake for visitors and museum staff to enjoy for the event.
Kennedy said she loves the museum and loves what it stands for in the Johnson City community.
“I think that Hands On! is just a treasure to this community. The work that we do here it’s fun and it’s entertaining, but ... more importantly, we are educating kids,” she said. “We are working to supplement the education they’re receiving in their classrooms, but they’re also having a really good time, so I think that’s invaluable. I hope we’re able to continue to do that for 25 more years.”