It’s spring break week for many Waco-area schools, one with fewer public COVID-19 restrictions or precautions than the past two years.
The sharp decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations nationwide in the past month has led many state and local governments, businesses and organizations to drop or relax masking orders and limitations on indoor gatherings.
For many families, this is a return to trips and activities that have been put on the back burner. For some museums, libraries and tourist spots in Waco, it’s a return to special activities for children and families.
Cameron Park Zoo
At Cameron Park Zoo and other tourist stops in Waco, spring break lasts two weeks: one that sees largely local traffic and the following week for visitors from out-of-town school districts according to a different spring break schedule.
“The second week is usually the busiest for us,” zoo spokesman Duane McGregor said.
Last spring, the zoo’s spring break attendance began to rebound after the 2020 pandemic shutdown that began in March.
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“If the weather is nice, you can see 52,000 to 54,000 people over the two weeks. Last year we were only 600 short of that,” McGregor said.
The zoo has no special activities planned for the spring break crowds other than a scavenger hunt that visitors can play on their smartphones. The chase, played through the GooseChase app, costs $20 per team with access to password and entry code plus a stuffed animal. Hunting is sold at the zoo shop between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Zoo hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, with last tickets sold at 4:30 p.m. Admission is $13 for adults, 12 $ for older adults, $10 for children 3 to 12 years old and free. for children 2 years and under. Tickets are available at www.cameronparkzoo.com/visit/tickets/.
The Mayborn Museum is also planning a two-week spring break, which it calls its oversized spring break. Regular museum days will have special activities scheduled between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. with mini-Monday activities at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Mondays.
Mini Mondays feature a story or children’s book read aloud, followed by a discussion of the items in the discovery chest from that day’s story time. Storyteller Vivian Rutherford will read at 10:30 a.m. Monday, and Emily Clark and Melissa Pennington will read at 1:30 p.m. Monday. Alan Small will read at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on March 14.
Craft Tuesdays and Thursdays allow children to explore tools and materials by making objects. Village Wednesdays and Fridays, held in the historic village of Governor Bill and Vara Daniel, examine life in a 19th-century rural Texas village. Activities on Wednesday, Friday and March 16 include a blacksmith demonstration, spring garden planting and a Texas Farm Bureau presentation on the cotton gin.
Retired FBI Special Agent and criminal profiler James Fitzgerald will give a lecture titled “The Science of Crime Solving,” including his involvement in the Unibomber and DC sniper cases, at 10 a.m. March 18. His speech is restricted to people 18 and older due to its subject matter.
The Mayborn Museum hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for senior adults, $8 for children 2-12, and available at baylor.edu/mayborn.
The Waco-McLennan County Library will be offering daily “STEAM Through Spring Break” activities for children and youth at each of its branches next week, complemented by a free outdoor screening of the animated film “Aladdin” Thursday night.
Activities will reflect each of the subjects represented by the acronym: Science on Monday, Technology on Tuesday, Engineering on Wednesday, Art on Thursday and Math on Friday. Additionally, the library system’s teen librarian, Bliss Brewer, will visit branches throughout the week to lead activities between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. She will be at the South Waco Library on Monday, the Central Library on Tuesday and Thursday, West Waco Library Wednesday, and East Waco Library Friday.
The “Aladdin” screening, with lyric sheets for a song, will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in front of the South Waco Library. Admission is free and attendees can bring blankets or lawn chairs to sit on.
Library events and activities of the week are free. Library hours vary by location and day.
Texas Ranger Museum
The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum will hold its annual Spring Break gathering from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. The event will feature re-enactors representing the Rangers of the 1870s, in period attire with a barbecue cart. Retired Texas Ranger Jim Huggins will also speak at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Admission to the museum is $8 for adults, $7 for senior and military adults, $4 for children 6-12, and free for children 5 and under.