What To Do: Spring brings many holidays and celebrations

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times 

Linvilla Orchards

There is a quartet of religious holidays that occur close to each other every spring – Holi for Hindus, Passover for Jews, Easter for Christians and Ramadan for Muslims.

This year, Holi began on March 28 and ended on March 29. Holi marks the advent of spring and is widely celebrated throughout Hindu-majority India.

The festival celebrates the eternal and divine love of Radha and Krishna. It also signifies the triumph of good over evil.

Passover started on the evening of March 27 and ends on the evening of April 4 – with the first and last days being the most important.

Believers recite special blessings or prayers, make a particular effort to visit a synagogue or listen to readings from the Torah and eat a ceremonial meal.

Ramadan is a month-long festival during which up to 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide do not eat or drink between sunrise and sunset. The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, the holy month of Ramadan has no fixed dates.

For 2021, Ramadan is set to run from April 12-May 12 – maybe. Those are the expected dates because that is when it’s presumed that there will be a successful astronomical observation. The month of Ramadan can begin only with the first sighting of a super-slim young crescent Moon — just hours after New Moon — over Mecca, the birthplace of Muhammad.

Then there is Easter.

Easter is a Christian festival and holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day after his burial following his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD.

Easter is a “movable feast” that is always held on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the full Moon that occurs on or just after the spring equinox.

This year, Easter is celebrated on Sunday April 4 – and that’s this weekend.

Actually, many Easter celebrations and activities have already been going on for several weeks – most of which are secular rather than religious. Christmas, which is Christ’s birthday, has Santa Claus as its commercial face. Easter has a similar role filled by the Easter Bunny.

The Easter Bunny, an oversized furry Leporidae, has been a busy big mammal since early March and will be extra busy this weekend.

He will participate in Easter Egg Hunts everywhere. He will join fans for special breakfast and brunch events. And he will travel with friends on hayrides and special railroad excursions.

The Easter Bunny will be hanging with friends this weekend at Highland Orchards (1000 Marshallton-Thorndale Road, West Chester, www.highlandorchards.net).

Highland Orchards is presenting “Hayrides to Easter Bunny” now through April 3.

Participants can enjoy a leisurely hayride to visit the Easter Bunny, hear a story about spring and receive an egg with a coupon for a treat to be redeemed back in the Market.

The event takes about half an hour and wagons leave about every half hour.

The cost is $7 per person and reservations are required.

Linvilla Orchards (137 West Knowlton Road, Media, 610-876-7116, www.linvilla.com) is presenting its “Hayrides to Bunnyland” event now through April 3.

Bunnyland at Linvilla Orchards is one of the area’s most popular early-spring attractions.

Visitors hop aboard a hayride which then carries them through the woods to visit the Easter Bunny’s house. Once there, they will be able to meet Linvilla’s Easter Bunny and listen as one of the Bunny’s friends tells a magical story.

Guests will receive a special treat. As an added attraction, the Easter Bunny likes to take pictures with all special guests.

“Hayrides to Bunnyland” will take place now through April 3 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Tickets are $10 per person with toddlers (11 months and under) admitted free.

For those who want to travel with the bunny in a climate-controlled environment without hay, there are many options provided by area tourist rail lines.

The West Chester Railroad

The West Chester Railroad (610-430-2233, www.westchesterrr.net) is running its Easter Bunny Express on April 3 and 4.

On the 90-minute round trip along the beautiful Chester Creek from West Chester to the historic Glen Mills village, the Easter Bunny will be on board handing out treats to all passengers.

During the 20-minute stop at the historic Glen Mills station there will be plenty of opportunities for riders to take photos with the Easter Bunny.

Tickets are $27 for adults, $20 for children (ages 2-12) and $8 for toddlers.

The Easter Bunny will also be in Delaware riding on the Wilmington and Western Railroad (Greenbank Station, 2201 Newport-Gap Pike, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-998-1930, www.wwrr.com) from April 2-4.

On the special trains, the big bunny with the big ears will visit with all passengers and pose for pictures. Departure times are 12:30 and 2:30 p.m.

The Easter Bunny hops aboard the train for a 1½-hour round-trip ride to Ashland, and all kids will get a special treat. Bring your camera and have the Easter Bunny pose for a picture with your child. This is a great way to welcome spring and bring the family out for a fun time on the rails.

This event is powered by one of the tourist rail line’s antique steam locomotives.

Fares are $22 for adults, $21 for seniors (ages 60 and older) and $20 for children (ages 2-12).

There is also another Delaware location featuring trains and the Easter Bunny.

The “Auburn Heights Egg-stravaganza” will be held on April 2 and 3 at Auburn Heights Preserve (3000 Creek Road, Yorklyn, Delaware, 302-239-2385, http://auburnheights.org).

According to the site’s web page:

Our plan was approved by the Delaware Dept. of Public Health, so safe family fun abounds with:

Socially distanced train rides

A bunny-themed craft (all ages)

A contactless scavenger hunt (best for ages 7-10)

Fresh steam-popped popcorn (for kids of all ages!)

Admission to the Marshall Steam Museum, with operating model trains

An interactive story — “Hoppy Lost Her Hop: A Bunny Tail” — while spread out on the mansion lawn (best for ages 6 and under)

A goodie bag with filled eggs to enjoy at the event or at home for all children attending (except infants)

In compliance with current restrictions and health guidelines, masks will be mandatory (children under age 2 are exempt), and attendance will be limited to 40% of traditional capacity, with timed entry.

The event will run from noon-4 p.m. each day. Tickets are $10 and are required for all attendees — adults & children. Infants under age one will be admitted free but will not receive a child’s goodie bag.

The New Hope Railroad (32 West Bridge Street, New Hope, 215-862-2332, www.newhoperailroad.com) is running its annual “Easter Bunny Express” on April 3 and 4 with departures at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m.

The Easter Bunny is going to ride onboard the train where he will visit with each child, hand out special treats and pose for pictures.

The train ride departs from and returns to the New Hope Train Station. Riders can take in the sights of early spring as the Easter Bunny visits with the children — handing out special candy treats and posing for photos taken by the railroad staff.

Coach tickets are $38.99 for adults, $35.99 for children (ages 12-plus) and $9.99 for toddlers (under 2).

At the Strasburg Rail Road (Rt. 741 East, Strasburg, 717-687-7522, www.strasburgrailroad.com), the special “Easter Bunny Train” will be rolling down the track on April 2, 3 and 4 with departures starting at noon each day.

Riders can welcome spring with a ride through beautiful farmland with the Easter Bunny as the special Conductor. The Easter Bunny will delight boys and girls with a special Easter surprise when they are greeted on board this memorable train.

It’s a BYOB event — Bring Your Own Basket. An Easter Egg Hunt is included as part of each child’s Easter Bunny Train experience.

Trains depart at 11 and 11:45 a.m. and 12:30, 1:15, 2, 2:45, 3:30 and 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 11 a.m. and 12:30, 2 and 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Tickets are $20 for adults and $14 for children.

The Colebrookdale Railroad (South Washington Street, Boyertown, www.dynamicticketsolutions.com)  is running its “Easter Bunny Express” excursion on April 3 and 4.

A good way to make Easter memories that will last a lifetime is to join Peter Cottontail aboard the Colebrookdale Railroad. The Bunny brings gifts for all children and an Easter Egg Hunt right on board the train for all children up to 12 years of age.

“Easter Bunny Express” excursions will depart at 10 a.m. and 1 and 4 p.m. each day.

Tickets are $45 for adults, $35 for children (ages 2-12), $42 for seniors (65 and older) and $15 for toddlers (under 2; must be held; no seat).

The Allentown and Auburn Railroad (35 Railroad Street, Kutztown, 570-778-7531, https://allentown-and-auburn-railroad.square.site/) is running special “Easter Bunny Trains” on April 3 and 4.

Families are invited to ride the rails this spring and enjoy a socially distanced train ride to see the Easter Bunny at the “Bunny Patch” (the railroad’s grove).

At the “Bunny Patch,” boys and girls who are passengers on the train will be able to have a meet-and-greet with the Easter Bunny and receive a chocolate surprise.

Trains depart at 10 a.m., 1 and 4 p.m.

Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for seniors, $10 for children and $.01 for toddlers (ages two and under).

Elmwood Park Zoo (1661 Harding Boulevard, Norristown, www.elmwoodparkzoo.org) is hosting Easter Brunch sessions with appearances by the Easter Bunny on April 3 and 4. 

Guests can enjoy a delicious breakfast, make Easter crafts, participate in an Easter egg scavenger hunt and meet one of the Zoo’s education animals. Other activities include getting a photo taken with the Easter Bunny and then enjoy exploring the Zoo.

The menu includes: Carved Roast Beef, Stuffed Pork Loin, Sausage, Turkey Sausage, Red Bliss Potatoes, Fried Chicken & Waffle Bar, Pasta Primavera, Mac & Cheese Shells, Omelette Bar, Scrambled Eggs, Quiche, Danish Pastries, Cinnamon Buns, and a Dessert Cart.

Beverage choices are Orange Juice, Milk and Coffee while the “Brunch Bar” features Irish Coffee, Mimosa, Screwdriver, Bloody Mary and Champagne & Cranberry Juice

Ticket pricing is: Table of 2: $79.95; Table of 4: $129.95; Table of 6: $189.95; Baby (ages 0 – 2): $10.95; Additional Guests: $34.95. Ticket includes admission to the Zoo, brunch, an Easter egg scavenger hunt and a photo opportunity with the Easter Bunny.

Elmwood Park Zoo

Zoos are all about animals and the Elmwood Park Zoo is presenting another animal-themed special activity – “Dog Days.”

The Zoo posted this message:

Families often consider their pets as members, and many enjoy sharing adventures with their dogs! As animal lovers, we acknowledge that a love of wildlife often goes hand-in-hand with pet ownership. We are excited to encourage a deeper appreciation for all animals by inviting owners to bring their dogs to visit the zoo on select days.

All guests visiting the zoo with a furry friend must complete an online waiver and submit required documents before visiting the zoo. You must upload a copy of your most recent veterinary visit, including proof of vaccine and heartworm test here. All items will be required for you to attend Dog Days.

The “Dog Days” event is slated for April 7, 9, 21 and 23 from 1-5 p.m.

Pricing is $10.95 per dog with each additional dog at $9.95. Regular zoo admission is required for all humans.

Life in an Endangerous Age

Another new zoo attraction can be found at the Philadelphia Zoo (3400 West Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, https://philadelphiazoo.org/) – “BIG TIME: Life in an Endangerous Age.”

Running from March 29-September 30, “BIG TIME: Life in an Endangerous Age” is an immersive, multi-sensory experience featuring 24 enormous animatronic creatures who take visitors on a prehistoric journey starting 66 million years ago.

“BIG TIME: Life in an Endangerous Age” is just one of many, many exciting animal attractions at the legendary zoo.

Animals are on the move like never before at Philadelphia Zoo with Zoo360, a first-in-the-world system of see-through trails passing through treetops, crossing over pathways and connecting habitats, giving animals like amazing big cats, majestic primates and marvelous meerkats the opportunities to travel and explore.

“America’s First Zoo” will provide guest with the opportunity to observe young western lowland gorillas, baby sloth bear cub, giraffes, hippos, white rhino, zebras, Amur tigers and more.

Visitors can explore the Zoo’s 42-acre Victorian garden and enjoy award-winning exhibits like Big Cat Falls and the PECO Primate Reserve.

Philadelphia Zoo is the second highest ticketed attraction in Philadelphia and one of the region’s foremost conservation organizations. It is home to nearly 1,300 animals – many of which are rare and endangered.

Zoo admission is $24 for adults (12 and over), $19 for children (ages 2-11) and free for children (under two). “BIG TIME” requires an additional admission fee which is $6 for adults and children (age two and older) and free for children (under two).

One of the best ways to celebrate the arrival of spring is a visit to Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square, 610-388-1000, www.longwoodgardens.org) to check out “Spring Blooms,” which is running now through May 2.

Longwood Gardens

Spring unfolds at Longwood Gardens as millions of geophytes color the March landscape, while flowering trees and thousands of blooming spring bulbs create a lush tapestry of color, fragrance, and warmth across the Gardens’ 1,100 acres throughout April.

Indoors, Longwood’s Main Conservatory is bursting with spectacular color as jasmine, anemones, lilies, and hydrangeas take center stage.

During peak bloom, expected in mid-April, weather permitting, Longwood’s historic 600-foot-long Flower Garden Walk boasts more than 200,000 tulips and other seasonal blooms in a patchwork of color.

In the Idea Garden, a combination of pink, peach, and yellow tulips are complimented by a ribbon of blue flowering bulbs providing a harmonious vista.

In the Ornamental Kitchen Garden, frost-tolerant spring vegetables—peas, broccoli, kale, arugula, cabbage, spinach, carrots, radishes, scallions, cilantro, and lettuce—begin to take form.

Guests will also want to soak in Longwood’s inviting and expansive Meadow Garden as Carolina silverbells, Eastern redbuds, flowering dogwoods, and sweet azaleas spring into beauty. Grand treehouses, whimsical topiaries, and tranquil forests add to the beauty of spring.

In addition to the glorious spring color, Longwood fountains also begin to jet back to life.

In mid-April, the Italian Water Garden and Open Air Theatre fountains delight guests, while Main Fountain Garden daytime and evening performances return May 6.

As always, admission by “Timed Ticket” — tickets issued for specific dates and times. Timed ticketing limits the number of people in the Gardens at any given time and allows guests to enjoy minimal lines and a better viewing experience.

You may enter the Gardens up to 30 minutes prior and 30 minutes after your designated time. Make every effort to arrive at your designated reservation time. Earlier or later arrivals may not be accommodated.

Admission to Longwood Gardens is $25 for adults, $22 for seniors (ages 62 and older) and college students, $18 for active military and veterans and $13 for youth (ages 5-18).

Tyler Arboretum

Another great option for walking outdoors and enjoying flowers in bloom is Tyler Arboretum (515 Painter Road, Media, 610-566-9134, www.tylerarboretum.org).

“Weekday Bird Walks: Limited Edition” are scheduled for every Wednesday in April from 8-10 a.m. Participants can join Sue Lucas and Sara Boucas-Neto on morning bird walks at Tyler.

With acres of unbroken forest interior and extensive meadows, Tyler is recognized by the Pennsylvania Audubon Society as an Important Bird Area. Participants are asked to bring their own binoculars and be prepared to walk on all types of surfaces. Walks are rain or shine. Tickets are $15 and include admission to Tyler for the day. 

“Weekday Wildflower Walks, Limited Edition” are also scheduled for every Wednesday in April from 11:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m. each day.

Participants will join wildflower experts Dick Cloud and Richard Brenner and discover the multitude of wildflowers that are in flower, fruit and perhaps a stage in-between. These walks are for those who have a love of plants, their role in ecology, or for those who want to learn more.

Instructions are to wear comfortable hiking shoes, bring a camera and/or a wildflower guide and enjoy a botanical-filled walk.

Tickets are $15 and include admission to Tyler for the day. 

Another interesting walking event is being offered by Historic Odessa (Main Street, Odessa, Delaware, 302-378-4119, www.historicodessa.org). A “Historic Odessa Outdoor Walking Tour” will be held on April 8 at 6 p.m. in Odessa,  a Delaware attraction known for being both a scenic and an historic site.

Outdoor candlelight walking tours are offered the second Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. by reservation.  Tours begin at the Stone Barn (c.1812), which is located behind the National Historic Register Wilson Warner House (c.1769) at 202 Main Street.

Participants will learn about family history, architectural history, and local history on a leisurely walk around some of the most stunning and architecturally significant buildings in the State of Delaware.

Fee for the “Walking Tour” is $10 per person.

Winterthur Museum

A trip to Delaware could also include a visit to Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library (Route 52, Wilmington, Delaware, www.winterthur.org) which has now opened its 2021 season with access to the Museum, Galleries, Garden, and 25 miles of walking trails.

The March Bank turns blue this week as more of the delicate flowers of glory-of-the-snow open. Early daffodils and the Cornelian Cherry dogwood add a touch of yellow.

At the Quarry, ‘February Gold’ daffodils and Cornelian cherries repeat the yellow along with more of the blue glory-of-the-snow. Spring snowflakes put on a spectacular display at the Icewell Terrace.

Almost 60 years ago, collector and horticulturist Henry Francis du Pont (1880–1969) opened his childhood home, Winterthur, to the public. Today, Winterthur is the premier museum of American decorative arts, with an unparalleled collection of nearly 90,000 objects made or used in America between about 1640 and 1860.

The collection is displayed in the magnificent 175-room house, much as it was when the du Pont family lived here, as well as in permanent and changing exhibition galleries.

Winterthur is set amidst a 1,000-acre preserve of rolling meadows and woodlands. Designed by du Pont, its 60-acre naturalistic garden is among America’s best, with magnificent specimen plantings and massed displays of color. Graduate programs and a preeminent research library make Winterthur an important center for the study of American art and culture.

Winterthur’s 1,000 acres encompass rolling hills, streams, meadows, and forests. Founder Henry Francis du Pont (1880-1969) developed an appreciation of nature as a boy that served as the basis for his life’s work in the garden.

He selected the choicest plants from around the world to enhance the natural setting, arranging them in lyrical color combinations and carefully orchestrating a succession of bloom from late January to November. Du Pont translated his love of the land into a unified work of art that embodies a romantic vision of nature’s beauty.

Admission to Winterthur is $20 for adults. $18 for seniors and students (with valid ID), $6 for children (ages 2-11) and free for infants (under 2).

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