Waterfront fest all about kids

Charlie Lugo, 3, of Norwich, takes the helm of the schooner Mystic Whaler while attending the Fish Tales, Tugs & Sails festival at Watefront Park in New London on Saturday.
Charlie Lugo, 3, of Norwich, takes the helm of the schooner Mystic Whaler while attending the Fish Tales, Tugs & Sails festival at Watefront Park in New London on Saturday. Dana Jensen/The Day Buy Photo

New London - If you are a fan of "The Cat in the Hat," the Waterfront Park was the place to be at.

Children's author Tish Rabe of Mystic, who took over the Dr. Seuss series following the death of author Theodor Seuss Geisel, assumed the main stage at the Fish Tales, Tugs & Sails children's festival Saturday to share secrets of her craft.

Her Dr. Seuss books always star the Cat in the Hat, always rhyme and always have a scientific theme, she said. For example, she recited, "When birds want to go on a winter vacation, they all take a trip and they call it migration."

Dr. Seuss's widow, Audrey Geisel, 86, has the final say when it comes to publishing the series, said Rabe, who has authored 17 "The Cat in the Hat" books. Some of her titles include "Clam I Am," "Miles and Miles of Reptiles" and her latest, "If I Ran the Dog Show."

At the other end of the park, another prolific author, this one only 14 years old, showcased her own body of work. August Edwards of Moosup has self-published five books, her first at age 10, and is working on her sixth.

"I've always loved to write," she said. "When I was in fourth grade, my dad said, 'If you keep writing, you can get published.' And I took it to heart."

Elsewhere at the festival, which had as its themes literacy, music, the environment and - this being New London - the water, kids climbed aboard the Mystic Whaler tall ship and took their place at the helm.

They listened to the Destiny Africa children's choir.

They squeamishly touched the live horseshoe crab at the Mystic Aquarium exhibit and happily careened down a giant plastic slide.

They lined up to ride the Roaming Railroad, a kid-sized train, and pestered their parents to buy them snacks.

And to the satisfaction of festival organizers, they did it all under blue skies, low humidity and temperatures in the mid 70s.

"This is the best weather we've had in seven years," said Renee Fournier, co-chairman of the Fish Tales event. This year's festival, bigger than ever, offered 20 activity tables, she said.

Sarah Chaput, a tiny tot in a sun hat and frock, used a plastic fishing pole to snag a plastic fish at The Mom's Club of New London and Waterford's table. Her mother, Suzanne Chaput of Quaker Hill, said she has brought her children to Fish Tales every year.

"It's more family-friendly than Sailfest," she said.

Siomara Melendez's daughters, niece and nephew used crayons, glitter and stickers to create their own take on Earth at the Child & Family Agency of Southeastern Connecticut's "Our Blue Planet" table.

Melendez is another regular at the annual festival.

"The kids have fun. You learn stuff. And almost everything is free," she said.

k.florin@theday.com

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