Celebrating Legos: St. Joseph community coming together to ‘build’ month-long event

Published 9:44 am Monday, March 10, 2014



ST. JOSEPH—The name “LEGO” comes from a combination of the Danish words “leg godt,” which mean “play well,” and that is exactly what St. Joseph’s second annual “Build Your Way Around Town” event is designed to help visitors do.

“It’s such a fantastic opportunity for families to come out and enjoy LEGOs and fun activities all around town,” said Jill Stone, executive director of St. Joseph Today.

Appropriately, the event is sponsored by Abonmarche, an engineering and architectural firm based in Benton Harbor, Mich. The five-week-long celebration of LEGOs runs from March 1 through April 6. It includes activities at a variety of locations throughout town, and it is even bigger than last year’s inaugural event.

“Last year was such a success that the participants at the different venues realized that it’s a great way to get people out during the colder weather we still have in March, and everybody had a great time,” Stone said. “So, many of those venues have come up with even more fun events for this year.”

Event sites include the Box Factory for the Arts, the Curious Kids’ Museum, the Krasl Art Center, the St. Joseph/Maud Preston Palenske Memorial Library, the Shadowland Ballroom, the Silver Beach Carousel and The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center. Events include concerts, movies, contests, games and displays.

One event that will continue throughout the entire 5 weeks is the LEGO Brick Display at the Silver Beach Carousel. Local amateur builders, including students from area schools, are showcasing LEGO creations that they have built.

While many were constructed from kits, others sprang forth from the imaginations of their creators. Entries included yachts, castles, and even chickens. Admission to the carousel house, the Silver Beach Amusement Park Museum and the display is free.

A Builder’s Bash will take place from 4 to 8:30 p.m. on March 6, providing visitors with the opportunity to see the creations and meet the local LEGO builders. More information can be found at www.silverbeachcarousel.com.

Another highlight of “Build Your Way Around Town” will be the LEGO Bricks Building Competition scheduled for March 15 at The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center.

“We’ll have contests for kids in four age groups,” explained Christina H. Arseneau, director of the museum. “Kids ages 5 to 7 and 8 to 10 can bring in their pre-built LEGO creations, and the winners will be announced at 10:30 a.m.”

Then, a timed competition will be held for older builders.

“Kids ages 11 to 13 and 14 to 18 can bring in their own LEGOs, and they’ll have 45 minutes to build their creations,” Arseneau said. “There will be LEGO-related prizes for all of the winners. Those winning entries will be on display at the museum through April 6.”

The Heritage Museum will also have some LEGO models created by the members of the Western Michigan Lego Train Club.

“Last year we had a model of the ‘Edmund Fitzgerald,’” Arseneau said. “This year, we’ll have a few things that you won’t see at the Big Build scheduled for the end of the month.”

Visitors to The Heritage Museum can also take that opportunity to explore the other exhibits that the museum offers.

“In celebration of LEGO month, admission to the entire museum will be free for the whole month, so people can view the Civil War exhibit and the rest of the museum,” Arseneau said.

Both adults and children will find something to capture their interest and excite their imaginations.

“We have a discovery box where kids can uncover the kinds of artifacts that might have been found on a Civil War battlefield,” Arseneau said. “Also, they can dress up in reproduction Civil War uniforms or 1860s ladies’ clothing.”

Towards the end of the month, the Shadowland Ballroom will host the Big Build. Professional LEGO builder Jason Spear and the Western Michigan LEGO Train Club will create a large display on March 27 during Family Fun Night, from 4 to 8:30 p.m. Visitors can see the finished model and talk with the professional builders about their work from March 28 through 30.

Finally, St. Joseph Today and the City of St. Joseph will get in on the LEGO action by linking LEGOs with lighthouses during the week of March 31. In celebration of the City’s recent acquisition of the lights and in keeping with this summer’s public art theme, the City will be holding a competition for builders of LEGO lighthouses. More information and submission forms can be found at www.stjoetoday.com/LEGO.

A full listing of the “Build Your Way Around Town” activities—most of which are free—can be found on the event’s Facebook page at facebook.com/BuildYour WayAroundTown. Additional details can be obtained by contacting the various venues.

“There’s just going to be a lot of fun things that families can do,” Stone said.