Tetris goes big time

Ever wish you could play a video game on a really, really big TV screen? That’s just what happened Saturday night in Philadelphia when a group of tech fanatics played the classic video game Tetris on the side of the 29-story Cira Centre building.

The classic video game Tetris is played on the 29-story Cira Centre in Philadelphia, Saturday, April 5, 2014, using hundreds of LED lights embedded in its glass facade. The spectacle kicks off a citywide series of events called Philly Tech Week and also celebrates the upcoming 30th anniversary of Tetris. (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)

The classic video game Tetris is played on the 29-story Cira Centre in Philadelphia, Saturday, April 5, 2014, using hundreds of LED lights embedded in its glass facade. The spectacle kicks off a citywide series of events called Philly Tech Week and also celebrates the upcoming 30th anniversary of Tetris. (AP Photo/ Joseph Kaczmarek)

The skyscraper, which has hundreds of LED lights embedded in the building’s glass facade, usually is used to display colorful patterns at night, but on Saturday it was connected to a computer that allowed people to interact with the lights and play the game.

“It has been probably 15 years since I played Tetris last on a Game Boy, and it’s much different playing on the side of building that’s a half-mile away,” the city resident Sam Robinson said. “Everything’s happening so quick.”

It wasn’t the first time Tetris has been played on a building. But the 100,000-square-foot “screen” — which includes the north and south faces of the structure — could be a record.

The spectacle kicked off a citywide series of events called Philly Tech Week. It also celebrated the upcoming 30th anniversary of a game revered as the epitome of elegance and simplicity, said Frank Lee, an associate professor of digital media at Drexel University.

Tetris, created by Russian computer programmer Alexey Pajitnov in 1984, challenges players to rotate and arrange falling shapes into complete rows.

It became a global phenomenon in the late 1980s after game designer Henk Rogers, who had seen Tetris at a trade show in Las Vegas, acquired the rights and struck a deal to put it on Nintendo’s original Game Boy.

Reported by KATHY MATHESON of the Associated Press from PHILADELPHIA, Pa.

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Color your county

Test your coloring skills with this map of Pennsylvania's York and Adams counties.

Test your coloring skills with this map of Pennsylvania’s York and Adams counties.

York Dispatch graphic artist Todd Stouch created this map of York and Adams counties as a coloring page. How much fun can coloring a map be? Well here’s a challenge for you: Color the map with as few colors as possible, but do it without allowing sections with a shared edge to use the same color. Read more about other map-coloring challenges here.

The printable version of the map is below.

Click on the image for a printer friendly version of this drawing, color it and then mail it back to us so we can post it here. Get even more coloring pages at the Junior Dispatch’s COLORING PAGE section!

Click on this picture for a printer-friendly image. When the image appears against a black background, click it again for a full-size version. Finally, when you print it, click on the “scale image to fit paper” in your printer settings.

Click on this picture for a printer-friendly image. When the image appears against a black background, click it again for a full-size version. Finally, when you print it, click on the “scale image to fit paper” in your printer settings.

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Even cats like to ride bicycles

 Rudi Saldia and his cat Mary Jane are often seen buzzing around Philadelphia on his bicycle. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Rudi Saldia and his cat Mary Jane are often seen buzzing around Philadelphia on his bicycle. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Saldia often buzzes around Philadelphia with his year-old feline Mary Jane perched on his shoulder. Their urban adventures have turned heads on the street and garnered big hits on YouTube.

The 26-year-old bike courier didn’t intend to become Internet-famous. He originally shot footage of the outings only to prove to his mom that he was taking Mary Jane — nicknamed MJ — for a spin.

“She said, ‘No way! You’re not taking your cat out for the ride,’ which is the reaction I still get even after people see this video,” Saldia said.

Saldia used a GoPro sports camera mounted on his bike to capture images of him and MJ, a brown and black tabby with bright yellow eyes. She seems to take the trips in stride, even nuzzling her owner as he pedals, though she gets a bit spooked by sirens and buses.

“She enjoys seeing everything and having the wind blow in her ears, especially being an indoors cat. This is really her only time outside,” he said. “On the shoulder, she loves it. She’s in total zen mode.”

The first video, which he posted last October, has more than 1.2 million views on YouTube. GoPro spokeswoman AnneMarie Hennes said she saw it earlier this year and was blown away. She immediately reached out to Saldia to get permission to use the footage in a camera ad, which was posted online last month.

“It’s just unique and he did a really good job shooting it,” said Hennes. “We hooked him up with some cameras so he can make more cool MJ content.”

Saldia, who also belongs to long-distance riding club, said he began taking out MJ when she was 2 months old, at first just along his quiet street in downtown Philadelphia. The rides eventually went farther, with positive reactions from both MJ and passers-by.

“People are thrilled to see the guy with the cat ride his bike down the street,” Saldia said.

But online commenters have been less kind, questioning whether the unharnessed cat is safe. Saldia noted he is equally vulnerable while riding in the city and takes necessary precautions.

“I’m very confident that the cat would be better off in an accident than I would be, so I’m not worried about taking her out,” he said.

Saldia’s mom said although she didn’t believe her son at first, she now thinks the tandem rides are “kind of cool.”

“He enjoys it, the cat loves to be with him (and) it’s better than being home alone,” said Sarah Saldia, of Sewell, N.J. “I don’t think they’re hurting anybody.”

———

Online:

Saldia’s video: http://bit.ly/ZdGK4U

GoPro video: http://bit.ly/1a70dUa

———

Reported by KATHY MATHESON of the Associated Press from PHILADELPHIA, Pa. Follow her at http://www.twitter.com/kmatheson.

Bicyclist Rudi Saldia and his cat Mary Jane pose for a portrait during an interview with the Associated Press in Philadelphia. Saldia often buzzes around Philadelphia with his year-old feline Mary Jane perched on his shoulder. Their urban adventures have turned heads on the street and garnered big hits on YouTube. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Bicyclist Rudi Saldia and his cat Mary Jane pose for a portrait during an interview with the Associated Press in Philadelphia. Saldia often buzzes around Philadelphia with his year-old feline Mary Jane perched on his shoulder. Their urban adventures have turned heads on the street and garnered big hits on YouTube. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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Prepare yourself for a bug’s lovesong

Billions of winged teenagers will crawl out of the ground, sing their hearts out and fall in love this summer.

As crazy as that sounds, it’s reality for the Brood II cicadas that only come around once every 17 years. The insects are found only in eastern North America, and nowhere else in the world.

This photo provided by the University of Connecticut, shows a cicada in Pipestem State Park in West Virginia on May 27, 2003. Any day now, cicadas with bulging red eyes will creep out of the ground after 17 years and overrun the East Coast with the awesome power of numbers. Big numbers. Billions. Maybe even a trillion. For a few buggy weeks, residents from North Carolina to Connecticut will be outnumbered by 600 to 1. Maybe more. And the invaders will be loud. A chorus of buzzing male cicadas can rival a jet engine.(AP Photo/University of Connecticut, Chirs Simon)

This photo provided by the University of Connecticut, shows a cicada in Pipestem State Park in West Virginia on May 27, 2003. Any day now, cicadas with bulging red eyes will creep out of the ground after 17 years and overrun the East Coast with the awesome power of numbers. Big numbers. Billions. Maybe even a trillion. For a few buggy weeks, residents from North Carolina to Connecticut will be outnumbered by 600 to 1. Maybe more. And the invaders will be loud. A chorus of buzzing male cicadas can rival a jet engine.(AP Photo/University of Connecticut, Chirs Simon)

Known as magicicada, they have been maturing underground for 17 years, slurping on fluid from the roots of trees. The magic number seems to be 64 degrees: They won’t come out until the soil is that temperature, according to two local experts.

The phenomenon: Soil in Cumberland County was 48 degrees over the weekend, said Ed Dix, a forester with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry. So the area still has till about late May or early June before the swarm, he said.

Adult cicadas are 1 to 1-1/2 inches long and have red eyes. Not to be confused with the more common annual cicadas, which look like huge, green flies, magicicadas are both smaller and much rarer.

“They’re definitely going to be noticeable,” said Timothy Abbey, of Penn State Cooperative Extension.

As daunting as billions of huge flies might seem, the bugs are mostly harmless.

Abbey said the insects are plant feeders and not much of a bother to crops. They don’t bite or damage property, but since females lay their eggs in the delicate twigs of deciduous trees, branches can break off and leaves might turn brown.

“But they’re not really a pest: They’re actually a beneficial thing when they come out,” Abbey said, as birds and small mammals like to snack on them.

The cicada way: These periodical cicadas have garnered the nickname “17-year locusts,” even though they’re not locusts, which are a type of grasshopper. When colonists settled in America, they hadn’t seen cicadas before and saw them as the locusts from the biblical plague, Dix said.

After the males emerge, they’ll begin to “sing” constantly. After about 10 days, mating will begin and females will deposit about 600 eggs. It’s a short party, and in just a few weeks, the adults will die and the hatchlings will return to the ground and restart the cycle.

But it is a big production, and the males’ song is loud and unmistakable. Dix said not to pay them too much mind.

“It’s just a bunch of 17-year-old males singing in a tree trying to find a mate,” he said matter-of-factly.

In York: The region the cicadas choose depends largely on how dense its woods are: The more trees, the more cicadas. Dix said areas east of the Susquehanna River have the most chance of a large influx.

“York County actually might have very little impact,” he said.

Their next return to York will be in 2021 in the form of Brood X, the largest of eight broods in the state.

Visit www.magicicada.org for maps and more information about the incoming cicadas.

Reported by MOLLIE DURKIN of The York Dispatch from YORK, PA. Reach her at mdurkin@yorkdispatch.com.

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Taking the blame for a groundhog

 Groundhog Club co-handler Ron Ploucha holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather predicting groundhog. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

Groundhog Club co-handler Ron Ploucha holds Punxsutawney Phil, the weather predicting groundhog. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)


An Ohio prosecutor who light-heartedly filed a criminal case against the Punxsutawney Phil said he may consider a pardon — after the animal’s handler took the blame for Phil’s rotten weather prediction.

Bill Deeley, president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club’s Inner Circle, told The Associated Press on Monday that the animal rightly predicted six more weeks of winter last month, but he mistakenly announced an early spring because he failed to correctly interpret Phil’s “groundhog-ese.”

“I’m the guy that did it; I’ll be the fall guy. It’s not Phil’s fault,” Deeley said.

Butler County, Ohio, prosecutor Mike Gmoser told the AP that he’s reconsidering the charges in light of the new evidence and may issue a full pardon.

“Frankly, he is a cute little rascal, a cute little thing,” Gmoser said. “And if somebody is willing to step up to the plate and take the rap, I’m willing to listen.”

The Groundhog Day celebration in Punxsutawney, a borough about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, attracts worldwide attention each year. But the attention stretched well beyond Feb. 2 when Gmoser last week issued an indictment as winter-like weather continued across much of the nation even as spring began.

“Punxsutawney Phil did purposely, and with prior calculation and design cause the people to believe that spring would come early,” Gmoser’s indictment said. The penalty? Death, Gmoser said, tongue firmly in cheek.

Reported by JOE MANDAK of the Associated Press from PITTSBURGH, Pa.

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How you can help Joey

Joey Duffy and his brother, Mick (4), play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in their living room. Joey has myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a blood and bone marrow disorder.  (Submitted)

Joey Duffy and his brother, Mick (4), play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in their living room. Joey has myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a blood and bone marrow disorder. (Submitted)

Just 2-and-a-half years old, Joey Duffy was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a blood and bone marrow disorder, in September.

To save his life, Joey needed a bone marrow transplant.

His parents, Tom and Maura Duffy, were not matches. Neither were his brothers, Tommy, 6, and Mick, 4.

Joey during his most recent hospitalization at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. (Submitted)

Joey during his most recent hospitalization at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. (Submitted)

While the Springettsbury Township family waited for a match to be found for Joey, they organized a Be the Match bone marrow drive. Be the Match is a national registry for bone marrow donations.

Then, the day after Thanksgiving, the Duffy family received the call they had waited for — a match had been found for Joey.

“We were getting ready to see family over the holiday weekend, and it was just a really happy moment,” said Maura Duffy. “It was a perfect match.”

The preparation: Joey had four rounds of outpatient chemotherapy and three days of inpatient chemotherapy.

He will go to Johns Hopkins Hospital Wednesday for more chemotherapy. The bone marrow transplant is set for March 28.

The family will stay at St. Casimir’s, the outpatient housing Johns Hopkins provides for bone marrow recipients and their families.

Recovery can be anywhere from four to eight weeks, and Joey’s mom will stay with him during the week while his dad will travel down for the weekends.

“He has been in the hospital literally his whole life, so this is nothing new,” Maura Duffy said.

Joey was born premature and stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit, and had been working with a doctor at Johns Hopkins since he was 6 months old, she said.

“Joey is a trouper,” she said. “He was a preemie and has been in the neonatal intensive care unit and he rolls with the punches. He does really, really well.”

Support: Juggling family life and trips to the hospital is the biggest challenge, she said, particularly when it means missing things like their older son’s birthday to be in the hospital.

“But we’ve got great friends and great family and lots of people out there supporting us,” Maura Duffy said. “Lots of people want to help, and it is amazing how good people can be.”

The Duffys and their friends have organized a 5K run and walk in Joey’s honor at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 20 at the new 5K course at John Rudy Park, 400 Mundis Race Road.

The fee to participate is $20, which includes a T-shirt for anyone who registers before Saturday. Anyone who registers after that will pay $20, but will not receive a shirt.

The cost to register the day of the race is $25, and all proceeds will go toward HelpHOPELive, an organization that distributes funds to families to help cover uninsured medical expenses.

Race packets can be picked up the night before the race from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. near the park at 5 Olde Hickory Road in Mount Wolf, or from 7 to 8 a.m. the day of the race at the park.

Anyone can visit www.helphopelive.com and type in a patient’s name to donate toward covering a family’s expenses.

For more information on the race, email kleinsc55@yahoo.com. To follow Joey’s progress, visit www.teamjoey.net.

Reported by CHELSEA SHANK of The York Dispatch from YORK, Pa.

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Students get on the ball — the yoga ball

Students in Robbi Giuliano's fifth grade class sit on yoga balls as they complete their assignments at Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, in West Chester, Pa.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Students in Robbi Giuliano’s fifth grade class sit on yoga balls as they complete their assignments at Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, in West Chester, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

In 11 years of teaching, ditching students’ desk chairs in favor of yoga balls is one of the best decisions Robbi Giuliano thinks she ever made.

Replacing regular seats with inflatable bouncers has raised productivity in her fifth-graders at Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School, making students better able to focus on lessons while improving their balance and core strength, she said.

“I have more attentive children,” Giuliano said. “I’m able to get a lot done with them because they’re sitting on yoga balls.”

Ball options:
The giant rubber spheres, also called stability balls, come in different sizes, colors and degrees of firmness. By making the sitter work to stay balanced, the balls force muscle engagement and increased blood flow, leading to more alertness.

Traditional classroom setups are being challenged as teachers nationwide experiment with yoga balls, footrests and standing desks, which give children outlets to fidget without disrupting class.

Stability balls, frequently used in yoga, Pilates and physical therapy, have even begun appearing in offices in the wake of recent studies stressing the dangers of sedentary work environments.

Giuliano began using the balls in her class in West Chester, a Philadelphia suburb, about three years ago after her husband mentioned how they increased productivity at the holistic wellness company where he worked.

Kids react: Student Ashley Hasson conceded that adjusting to her dark pink ball was tough at first.

“But once you get used to it, it’s not that hard because basically you’re just sitting down,” she said.

Another student, Kevin Kent, said the ball makes it easier for him to concentrate and keeps his back from getting stiff. Now, he said, sitting in a chair is “weird, because you’re all bent up.”

Ball rules: Some health experts cautioned against the possibility of student horseplay and falling off the balls. But Giuliano’s 24 students know they must keep their bottoms on the balls and feet on the floor at all times, though they can bounce and bob as much as they like.

The same goes for Dannielle Doran’s fourth-graders at Merion Elementary School in a nearby district, where misbehavior risks loss of the ball and a return to a four-legged seat.

“They like sitting on them so much, and they don’t want to lose that privilege,” Doran said. “It seems to almost … motivate better behavior.”

The balls are not mandatory in Doran’s or Giuliano’s classes, but Giuliano noted only one student in three years has opted to continue using a chair.

Parents have been supportive as well, voluntarily purchasing the $5 balls for their kids. Some even ended up buying balls for themselves to use at home and work, said Giuliano, who wants to spread the word to other teachers.

“I don’t like sitting on a chair all day … so I started sitting on a yoga ball, and I find I’m more alert,” Giuliano said. “And my message is to try it with your class and see if it works for you.”

___

Reported by KATHY MATHESON of the Associated Press from WEST CHESTER, Pa. Follow Matheson at http://www.twitter.com/kmatheson

Robbi Giuliano teaches her fifth grade class as they sit on yoga balls at  Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School  Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, in West Chester, Pa.  Giuliano says "I'm able to get a lot done with them because they're sitting on yoga balls."   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Robbi Giuliano teaches her fifth grade class as they sit on yoga balls at Westtown-Thornbury Elementary School Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, in West Chester, Pa. Giuliano says “I’m able to get a lot done with them because they’re sitting on yoga balls.” (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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From A to Balto: Students learn all about the Iditarod

Balto is on display at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Balto is on display at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Third-graders in Staci Verge’s class grilled a National Parks Service ranger on Friday to find out more about the park service’s sled dog program.

IDITAROD 2013 COVERAGE


EDITOR’S NOTE

The Junior Dispatch is once again planning to offer complete coverage of the Iditarod dog sled race and our coverage will officially start on Friday, March 1, but be sure to catch some early coverage all through out February.

Junior Dispatch invites you to participate by commenting or e-mailing juniordispatch@yorkdispatch.com with your thoughts on this story or the race by submitting artwork you’ve created.

READING PROJECT
Along with the Iditarod coverage, we will also be presenting a serialized novel, as we do every year during the Iditarod. This year, we will present “Rescue Dog of the High Pass” by Jim Kjelgaard a story about a young man and his dog working in the famed St. Bernard Pass in Europe.

The reading project will include videos, vocabulary words, coloring pages and other things for kids to do.

Get the FREE Gutenberg.org version of “Rescue Dog of the High Pass” here.

Verge’s students at Grandview Elementary School communicated via Skype with a park service representative from Denali National Park. Denali is in Wasilla, Alaska. Much of the park grounds in the wilderness are impassible by vehicles. Rangers use sled dog teams to navigate those areas in winter.

The Skype session tied into a lesson on Balto, the Siberian Husky sled dog who led his team on the final leg of the 1925 serum run to Nome, inspiration for the annual Iditarod. Students will also be following the Iditarod sled dog race later this year. In science, the two third-grade classes have learned about animal adaptations.

“We read about Balto in reading who is a famous sled dog,” said Verge. “In science, they’ve been learning about animal adaptations. It tied into both reading and science. We’re going to be following the Iditarod when it comes in March. We’ll be following that as well.

“They were so interested today.”

Students learned more about animal adaptations on Friday and were fascinated by the results.

A good sled dog, the park ranger explained, had five main adaptations to help them in their work: Two different types of fur keep dogs warm and dry, thick tough toe pads make it easier for travel, a bushy tail helps a dog breathe easier when curled up and laying down, a longer tongue aides in panting to stay cool while running and counter-current circulation keeps blood flow warm in their bodies.

“I think the thing I found interesting is their arteries and their veins were put together so that their body wasn’t too cold and it wasn’t too hot,” said Sam Raudabaugh.

“I didn’t know that they had two layers of fur,” said Haley Colby.

Students also learned background about the park, which is the home to Mount McKinley, North America’s tallest mountain peak.

But, it was the sled dog lesson that had students talking the most.

“I liked how it told us that when they get tired and the dogs take a break, they curl up and put their bushy tail over their nose,” said Garrett Swatsburg.

——
Reported by BRIAN HALL of the Public Opinion from from CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. Hall can be reached at 262-4811 and bkhall@publicopinionnews.com, or follow him on Twitter @bkhallpo. (MCT)

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Help create a monster or two

Toy designer Todd Broadwater of New Freedom needs help launching his new toyline for his Nevermore Toys company. The action figure set is called Legendary Monsters. (Todd Broadwater photo)

Toy designer Todd Broadwater of New Freedom needs help launching his new toyline for his Nevermore Toys company. The action figure set is called Legendary Monsters. (Todd Broadwater photo)

A York County man is laboring to give birth to monsters.

Not Hollywood monsters, but honest-to-goodness folk monsters. The sort of monsters with tales travelers shrug off and laugh at while the locals warn and nod and stay in after dark.

The Jersey Devil. Mothman. The Missouri Monster, aka Eastern Bigfoot. Chupacabra.

Meet Todd Broadwater, a 40-year-old toy designer with a serious business plan and a fledgling company.

 Todd Broadwater, 40, of New Freedom,  is a toy designer who has worked on action figures and video games. (Todd Broadwater photo)

Todd Broadwater, 40, of New Freedom, is a toy designer who has worked on action figures and video games. (Todd Broadwater photo)

Legendary Monsters “is the first toy line for Nevermore Toys,” he says in a recent phone interview. The idea for the monster-themed action figure line came to him several years ago. He put it on hold when he changed careers from toy to video game design, but he couldn’t stop hoping he’d find a way to make the dream a reality.

“It wasn’t until I found Kickstarter that I realized the potential to get it out to the public,” he says. Kickstarter, one of several online crowdfunding sites, helps artists, designers and inventors of all kinds bring their ideas straight to people who directly fund the projects in exchange for special perks.

Started early: Broadwater’s love for action figures began in childhood, in the years before video games and technology became the all-consuming obsessions of childhood they are today.

“I spent a lot of time playing with action figures,” he says, describing how he and his friends grew up on toys from Star Trek, Star Wars and G.I. Joe. “We would travel in packs and take our toys with us. … They let me push my imagination and escape into a place that made me happy.”

As he got older, collecting action figures became a hobby that kept him out of trouble,Broadwater says. His love for toys led him to pick a career path in industrial design and work for the industry on toy lines big and small, including some he’d played with as a child. But there’s only so much room for a designer’s imagination when the characters are as well-known as Batman or Captain Kirk.

Authenticity: When he went to work on his own toy line, Broadwater knew he wanted to keep that sense of free, creative play while staying true to the folktales.

The monsters are designed with both adult collectors and rough-and-tumble child’s play in mind. Each will come with a human action figure and a small playset to showcase the spooky encounters described in the eyewitness accounts.

The Jersey Devil, for example, stands amid the fallen trees of the Pine Barrens while an old man swings his lantern and clutches his hunting rifle. Will he make it out alive? In the world of imagination, only the person holding the action figures knows for sure.

Get the toys
Buy-in levels for Legendary Monsters start at $1 and range all the way up to $5,000 for a complete set of toys, original drawings, original toy prototypes and more. A set of all four monsters, with their humans and accessories, will run investors $90 plus shipping.

The toys are expected to arrive in buyers’ hands around Halloween. To pre-order a set or see all of the available buy-in levels, visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/1336904045/legendary-monsters.

Creator Todd Broadwater is working with manufacturers to drop the project’s overall Kickstarter goal of reaching $350,000 to cover factory costs, shipping and warehousing, and other production elements.

Learn more about Nevermore Toys at www.nevermoretoys.com.

Reported by MEL BARBER of The York Dispatch. Reach her at 854-1575 X458 or at mbarber@yorkdispatch.com.

Original story here: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/weekend/ci_22464531/monstrous-work-afoot-new-freedom

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Mingle with the monarchs

Monarch butterflies are fed with a Q-Tip swab at the Pennsylvania Farm Show's butterfly farm exhibit. (John A. Pavoncello, The York Dispatch)

Monarch butterflies are fed with a Q-Tip swab at the Pennsylvania Farm Show’s butterfly farm exhibit. (John A. Pavoncello, The York Dispatch)

Butterfly lollipops are a hot item at the Pennsylvania Farm Show this year. They are not something new on the menu at the food court, but an essential part of the Folk’s Butterfly Farm exhibit in the Main Hall.

Everyone who enters the greenhouse that contains thousands of butterflies is given a butterfly lollipop — a cotton Q-tip swab dipped in grape Gatorade.

David Folk, who runs the butterfly farm with his family, instructs each person to hold out the lollipop to a butterfly until it latches on and rests there.

Hands-on: Inside the 75-degree greenhouse, cameras click away, capturing awe on the faces of children and parents alike as butterflies land on the “lollipops” and on their clothing. The butterfly house has live butterflies, caterpillars and chrysalises, and the stand owners encourage close interaction between people and the butterflies.

This is the second year that Folk’s Butterfly Farm, which is in Columbia County, has set up at the farm show, and they estimate that around 2,000 people stopped in each day over opening weekend. That figure is slightly higher than last year, said Kristie Good, David Folk’s daughter.

“Now people come back and say they’re glad to see us again,” Kristie Good said.

Good originally raised and sold butterflies for an FFA project when she was in high school. Her first attempt was a flop because the temperatures were too cool, but her second attempt was a success, and she began selling butterflies she raised for weddings, birthdays and other celebrations.

It grew into a family endeavor with her parents and her husband, Eugene Good. They travel to events throughout the state, give educational presentations and welcome field trips to their farm. The butterfly lollipops work well as long as they use “high test” Gatorade and not a low-calorie version, said Kristie Good. In the beginning she tried sugar water, but someone recommended Gatorade and that seems to work even better, she said.

A butterfly lands on Kaelin Gibson, 3, of Springettsbury Township on Sunday at the Folks Butterfly Farm display at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg. Show visitors can enter a greenhouse and feed the butterflies for $2. (John A. Pavoncello photo)

A butterfly lands on Kaelin Gibson, 3, of Springettsbury Township on Sunday at the Folks Butterfly Farm display at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg. Show visitors can enter a greenhouse and feed the butterflies for $2. (John A. Pavoncello photo)

It’s OK: Some visitors worry that touching the butterflies will cause them to become injured and unable to fly, but butterflies are resilient. Their wings are made of scales like fish, so the worst thing that could happen is for their coloring to rub off, said Eugene Good. Moths, however, have wings made of powder, and touching their wings does cause permanent damage.

The four species of butterflies native to Pennsylvania in the butterfly house are the Painted Lady, Buckeye, Monarch and Eastern Black Swallowtail. Other types inside are the Zebra Longwing, Julia, Great Southern White and Giant Swallowtails.

Butterflies generally do not fly in weather below 55 degrees, and they do not fly when it’s raining, said Eugene Good.

Admission to the butterfly house is $2. For more information, visit www.folksbutterflyfarm.com.

Reported by Chelsea Shank of the York Dispatch from HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania. Reach her at cshank@yorkdispatch.com.

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