Kids Cuddle Up With Huskies at 'Polar Adventure Days'

By Kyla Gardner on February 16, 2013 6:00pm | Updated on February 16, 2013 7:39pm

SOUTH LOOP — It was below freezing Saturday on Northerly Island, and snow flurries swirled. But it didn't stop hundreds of kids from braving the temps and meeting some critters. 

Bundled up in winter hats shaped like birds, huskies, and other wildlife, the kids got the chance to see wolves, owls and reptiles -- and even pet some sled team Siberian huskies -- at the Chicago Park District's 8th annual "Polar Adventure Days."

The program is meant to "get kids outside in the winter," said Jane Schenck, gardening program specialist for the Chicago Park District.

"It's to get them to realize they can still have fun outside even when it's chilly," she said.

One of the crowd favorites was a sled team demonstration. Many of the huskies, as part of Free Spirit Siberian Rescue, were up for adoption.

When asked what her favorite part of the day was, Laura Plonskey, 7, of Lakeview, smiled and widened her eyes.

"I petted a Husky!" she said.

Big Run Wolf Ranch brought a coyote, porcupine and wolf, though unlike the huskies, it was hands-off around those guys. No petting allowed.

"The wolf is so big and his eyes are big and yellow," Laura said, widening her eyes with her fingers. "And I saw the coyote was all curled up."

Inside a park district building, kids milled about craft stations, listened to live music from the Old Town School of Folk Music, and gathered around a naturalist showing off frogs, snakes and mice in a comedy show.

The activities drew children of all ages, like the three sons — ages 5, 7 and 9 — of Pepsi Patterson.

"I have difficulty keeping up with them," Patterson said, laughing. "They love it. ...It’s a way to get kids back to nature, outdoors, getting their hand on things and away from the electronics."

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