The Heritage Museum of Orange County is preparing to host its first in-person event of the year, “From Dinosaurs to People.”
The free-entry event showcases Orange County’s cultural and natural history with a variety of vendors, demonstrations and activities including guided nature tour walks, Dino Encounters’ robotic dinosaurs and posters for photo-ops and arm painting (in lieu of face paintings).
Local high school students will unveil their mural series on unknown histories, which was postponed for a year. Representatives from local Vietnamese, Cambodian, Buddhist and Sikh communities will be present to discuss the topics covered in the mural.
The first 100 guests will receive goodie bags.
“Last summer, this event was named Best Family Festival by Macaroni Kid, which is a very popular mommy blog group,” said Jamie S. Hiber, executive director. “It gave us inspiration to continue. It’s a perfect way to welcome our community back to the museum by hosting our most beloved event.”
The event started in 2015 when the museum partnered with John D. Cooper Archaeological and Paleontological Center to showcase its Orange County fossil findings to residents. In the past, museum staff also organized demonstrations featuring Tongva and Acjachemen tribe representatives, live animal rescue groups specializing in reptiles and wolves as well as gold panning.
Due to COVID-19 and a shortage of staff, the museum scaled back some activities.
Hiber said the biggest challenge this year is having animals on site, however visitors may still have a chance to explore some of the 12 acres of wildlife made up of birds, rabbits, squirrels, wildcats and a family of coyotes.
The museum staff plan to follow COVID-19 guidelines such as requiring face masks upon entry, social distancing between households and temperature checks for indoor exhibitions.
“Santa Ana was hit very hard by COVID, and it has been really personally tragic for a lot of my staff,” said Hiber. “We have not gotten out of COVID unscathed and I’m going to take it in the direction in line with the staff’s comfort level.”
The museum reopened with its public tours of their historic buildings in May and began operating at full capacity in June. They have booked seven weddings, three proms and Gente Night Market at their grounds this month.
Hiber said the biggest hit was financial. Most of the museum’s revenue comes from field trips, weddings and other private events. Donors, sponsors, community partners, PPP loans, grants and federal funding have helped the museum reopen with about half of its usual staff.
“I can’t say we’re out of this yet, but we are emerging from it and we’re really excited,” said Hiber. “The museum is very fortunate and to have gotten this far … and I really hope that all of this time has shifted our direction in the community and what we can do to educate and collaborate.”
What: “From Dinosaurs to People”
When: June 27, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Heritage Museum of Orange County, 3101 W. Harvard St., Santa Ana
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