From amazing mazes to dark lords, there is still a lot to do while quarantining

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By Cynthia Price

The little kid in all of us may try to act blasé when we see Darth Vader swashbuckling on the side of the road, but in secret people of all ages are at least entertained.

That is part of what many activities available through online sources attempt to do for us as we relentlessly stay quarantined.

In the case of Muskegon, Darth Vader is a real guy, John McKeown. Equipped with his own Personal Protective Equipment, he occasionally appears in Lakeside or at Pere Marquette Park, and welcomes talking to or even engaging in light-saber play with people he comes across. He plays the same role in Myrtle Beach S.C. when he goes there in January through March.

Now in these times of COVID-19, he also reads to children, every day at approximately 6:00 p.m. People who like his Facebook page, Fans of John Darth Vader, get a 5-10 minute warning before he reads such masterpieces as “Five Little Penguins Sliding on the Ice,” which is a lot like the monkeys jumping on the bed. He enters with Star Wars music, and gives them a riddle to ponder until the next day.

“I do take the helmet off so they can see I'm just a regular guy,” McKeown says. “I'm just having fun with it.”

He is not the only local who has thought about how to help children of all ages have fun at a distance.

The Lakeshore Museum Center has a number of enjoyable, and educational, ideas. Their Facebook page has activities on the home page, such as identifying what something might be for, and a variety of science and “virtual play and learn” features under the “Videos” tab.

In addition, the website, www.lakeshoremuseum.org, has a link at the very top of the home page for its “Museum at Home” activities.

These include a printable fold-up guide to a Nature Scavenger Tour, several coloring and activity pages including a Mastodon Maze, craft instructions for kids, brief videos about history and science, including science experiments to do at home, and even a selection of Zoom meeting backgrounds you can use to fool your colleagues into thinking you are in a home with gorgeous stained glass windows or at a baseball game in the early 1900s.

The Muskegon Museum of Art has virtual tours at https://muskegonartmuseum.org/exhibitions/ but is even more active on its Facebook page, posting photos of treasured works of art every day. Check the “Videos” tab on that page too.

You can watch the U.S.S. Silversides submarine live at https://silversidesmuseum.org/pages/watch-us-live — though it is often just sitting there – and there are videos on its website as well, including a 9-minute episode about Joseph Beyrle, a “Hero From History.”

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