Rediscovered: Kids, parents cheer reopening of Port Discover
By Chris Day
Sunday, February 3, 2019
Port Discover’s reopening Saturday was met by an impressive turnout of parents all excited for the return of the popular children’s hands-on science learning center. The reopening also put a smile on children’s faces.
“He’s been sad since we told him it was closed,” said Tammy Burley, of her six-year-old son Ethan’s reaction last August to news Port Discover had closed.
“Why can’t we go back?” he once asked his mother after the closing, she said.
On Saturday, Ethan was all smiles and happily playing at a station that demonstrates how water flows.
Port Discover, located on Main Street in downtown Elizabeth City, closed abruptly in August due to a lack of funding.
Port Discover’s reopening celebration, “For the Love of Port Discover,” kicked off at 10 a.m. Saturday and ran well into the afternoon, ending at 4 p.m. Duffy Danish, the learning center’s executive director, said shortly before 11 a.m. about 30 families had already visited and shared positive reviews. Throughout the center, parents spent time with their children at the different activities, such as the water table, and another activity called Bernoulli Basketball. The latter is a game played using hairdryers to float a ping pong ball across a table and into a miniature basketball goal.
Armand Curet, 2, was spotted by an aquarium with his mother, Mariela Curet. The two were looking at Lily, Port Discover’s live-in resident — a red corn snake.
“I’m very excited,” said the mother, when asked about Port Discover’s reopening. Before it closed she used to bring Armand every week to Toddler Tuesday, a day with events just for youngsters.
Ashley Harper was with her 18-month-old daughter Heidi in visiting Port Discover for their first time.
“I love it,” the mother said, adding the facility had just closed last fall before her family moved to Elizabeth City. “I’m glad it’s back open.”
Sarah Lanore was with her two children, Emma, 7, and Jack, 2.
“Well, there’s not a lot for the children, so this a good educational place for them to come,” the mother said. “They like hands-on activities.”
Rebecca McKee was with her son, Ciaran, who is about a year and a half old.
“We used to come all the time” before it closed, she said. “We’re here (today) to support it and we’re very excited it’s open.”
McKee also said the timing of the reopening was perfect, considering the weather.
“Since it’s so cold out, there’s not much to do outdoors,” she said.
Axel Colson, 2, was joined by his father, Alex.
“Oh, definitely,” the father said, when asked if he was happy Port Discover had reopened. “We live right down the street, so it’s really convenient.”
Port Discover held an open house Friday night during First Friday ArtWalk and Danish said the open house was also well attended.
“I feel like there’s a little bit of something for everyone here, regardless of age,” Danish said, sitting Saturday at a small desk where she greeted parents and handed out brochures. Assisting her Saturday were several volunteers, many of them students in Camden County High School’s Coast Guard Junior Leadership Program.
Danish said she has summer outdoor programs already planned, to include and eco-summer camp. There will also be something similar to Toddler Tuesday, with different activities each week.
Other examples of children’s learning activities Port Discover offers include teaching the principles of flight, introducing robotics and small animals.