Thirteen-year-old Clare Livick can’t wait to slip on a pair of feathery black wings and help make Aesop’s fable “The Fox and the Crow” come alive.
“I volunteer with the library and have been going to the storytelling events since I was little,” Clare said. “I love to read. The library is just a huge part of my life.”
The Atascadero teen is one of 68 volunteers who will promote their passion of reading today during the second annual Central Coast Children’s Classic.
Set on the grounds of the Portola Inn, locals have created elaborate activity stations for children inspired by classic stories to help raise money for a bigger Atascadero-Martin Polin Regional Library.
During the event’s debut last year, the effort drew 52 volunteers and raised $2,000 for the new library, which is going into an existing 20,000-square-foot office building at 6555 Capistrano Ave.
Some San Luis Obispo County offices will also share the space.
With tenant improvements and other costs, the total move is estimated at $8.4 million. The library portion alone is estimated at $5.7 million, which the county and the Friends of the Atascadero Library group agreed to split.
With about $1.8 million already raised, the Friends group has just $175,000 to go. Its opening date is tentatively set for fall 2013 to align with the city’s centennial.
Aside from fundraising, “it is our goal to inspire our area youth to love books, reading and learning,” said Liz Helgerson, Friends of the Atascadero Library at-large board member.
Children will be offered hands-on activities, demonstrations and live storybook readings surrounded by costumed characters from popular stories.
Mr. McGregor’s Garden, Pirate’s Cove and Rapunzel’s tower will be among the crafty backdrop of activities. Trolley rides, a puppet show and a ballet performance of the “Velveteen Rabbit” will also entertain families.
“The whole thing was really fun. Being able to have the stories come alive for all the kids,” Clare said.
She said she is excited to run the face-painting booth, just like she did last year.
Danyele Rampone, 17, is looking forward to “helping people really feel the magic as much as possible.”
Last year, she helped host the “Alice in Wonderland” tea party where she seated guests and helped serve snacks. This year, she’s tinkering with the idea of being part of Peter Pan’s story.
“The magic of that is great for the kids,” she said.
Eighteen-year-old Shelby Pauly also helped at the tea party last year, dressed up in a Mad Hatter costume she created with her mom.
She’ll sport a maroon jacket with lace added to the oversized lapel and cuffs; brown capri pants with pink-and-silver pinstripes; and knee-high socks with a dramatic mismatch of stitching.
“We try to stay in character as much as possible,” Shelby said.
Maintaining the Mad Hatter’s voice and walk are part of that, an endeavor she said is a fun challenge.
Crafting paper hats, bracelets and games are part of 16-year-old Brittney Tierney’s event tasks. As a longtime member of the Cerro Alto 4-H Club, she said that she loves helping out the library and often presents talks on animals there.
“I just like helping throughout the community as much as I can,” Brittney said.
Such enthusiasm among today’s youth touches Helgerson’s heart.
“It is, for me, a special aspect of this event that so many people, young and old, are willing to volunteer and contribute,” she said.
Those who are working to bring a new library to Atascadero tout its benefits of boosting space for public meetings, providing a computer lab and adding a new teen study area. Many of today’s event volunteers are excited about the teen room aspect and helped with its design.