New England Air Museum hosts first Easter Bunny visit

By Jennifer Coe - ReminderNews
Windsor Locks - posted Wed., Apr. 3, 2013
Easter Bunny at New England Air Museum
Maddy, Lucy and their uncle stop to take a photo with the Easter Bunny at the New England Air Museum on March 29. Photos by Jennifer Coe.

At the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, you can fly your own virtual plane, learn about some of the earliest flying contraptions and witness American military aviation history - and now, you can also meet the Easter Bunny.

Two days before Easter, on March 29, NEAM welcomed the furry, long-eared rabbit himself to come and sit with friends who walked in the front doors of the museum.

Since it was the first time the Easter Bunny made a stop at the museum during his busy time of year, he was a surprise to some, but eventually sought out by all. Sisters Maddy and Lucy, for example, ran right up to him for a hug and a photo.

“This is our first bunny visit,” said Gina Maria Alimberti, director of visitor services. NEAM has been doing more to bring in visitors in recent months, including hosting events like its annual visit from Santa and its first-ever Home-school Day on March 5.

“When we had Santa Claus here, it was a big hit,” said Kyla Murray, an employee in the gift shop. They expected about 400 visitors during the bunny’s visit, including about 200 children.

Simultaneously, in a room off of the lobby, a Lego-building contest was being held. Thousands of Lego bricks are always an attraction for museum visitors when they are dumped out to be played with. The Lego bricks were spread out on big tarps and the silent children were lost in concentration, scrutinizing their red, green and blue creations.

Afterwards, the finished products were laid on two long banquet tables to be judged. At the end of the day, the following winners were announced: Trevor Koehler and Brandon Frechette in the 3- to 5-year-old age group; Lilian Ehrlich and Xander Beck & Shane Bradley in the 6- to 8-year-old age group; and Aden Kulch and Gabe Bragg in the 9- to 12-year-old age group.

Another attraction which is regularly drawing in the older children is the flight simulator corner stationed in the 58th bomb wing. Six high-tech computer stations are installed so that kids can feel what it’s like to fly a plane. The museum has had a game called “Flight Simulator” already, but this new area boasts another, more realistic game called “X Plane.” The so-called “Flight Sim-Spot” was sponsored by Premier Flight Center, William and Alice Mortensen Foundation, Executive Valet and the John G. Martin Foundation.

“It seems to be a big draw,” said Christopher Huestis, an aerospace educator at the museum.

The museum has also recently announced its newest project to add a 10,000-square-foot addition on to its existing 12,000-square-foot storage hangar. The present storage hangar was put into use in 2010 and the expansion is seen as essential with the growth of the museum itself. JLN Contracting of Berlin, Conn., has been selected as the contractor, with work expected to begin in May 2013. The project is supported through a grant provided by the Connecticut State Department of Community & Economic Development.

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