Children, parents snuggle up, read at Berkshire Museum for Pajama Night


Photo Gallery | Pajama Night at Berkshire Museum

PITTSFIELD — More than 1,000 irregularly clothed parents and children — all donning sometimes brightly colored sleepwear — rushed Berkshire Museum for the annual WeeMuse Pajama Night.

Probably nowhere else in the country could one witness a city police chief reading aloud a children's story about ballerinas. Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn, state Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, Mayor-Elect Linda M. Tyer, Ward 6 City Councilor John Krol and many more read to groups of children from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

A line snaked out the door and around the corner by 5:30.

"One of the things we like about this event is all the barriers to access that might affect anyone are gone — it's free, it's sponsored and it's casual," Berkshire Museum Executive Director Van Shields — himself wearing a long grey robe — said.

He added, "We're telling people this is your museum, and this is our community. And of course there's the literacy angle, and we're interested in anything we can do to help further along literacy among all children here."

Among the paintings, statues, and other exhibits upstairs, the displays on wildlife and rocks and minerals on the main floor and the aquarium downstairs, kids sprawled to listen to stories read by adults.

Some passed books around among themselves. One would have had little difficulty finding select titles among the hundreds and hundreds of books that littered the museum on Friday.

Thanks to El Salvador native Gerardo Aguilar, a 16-year-old city resident and Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School student, the event even featured readings in Spanish, which more than a handful of children enjoyed over the course of the evening.

"It's important to have diversity and to expose young people to another language and culture," Aguilar said. "I like little children; I like teaching and I was only to happy to come and participate when my teacher asked."

Also at the event, singer Matt Heaton performed a sing-along in museum's theater.

Apples, cookies, refreshments and more entertainment were available in the main room, one particular attraction being random words cut from paper, where kids had spelled out such phrases as, "It is a fast puppy" and "I have one purple arm."

"Over 1,000 people in under an hour-and-a-half," Shields said, "there's a welcome challenge."

Contact Phil Demers at 413-496-6214.


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