WPSU welcomes characters, community members to open house

Kali Buchan couldn’t wait any longer.

Kali, 4, was next in line to have her picture taken with Daniel Tiger, the main character from PBS’ “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” when the mascot took its first break.

She’d had her picture taken with him at the Cat-a-palooza at WPSU’s 2013 Open House, but said she looked forward to it again all year.

“I liked him,” Kali, of State College, said. “I wanted to hug him.”

Kali wondered where he could have gone. She scanned the room for Daniel Tiger on her tip-toes and asked her mother, Samantha, where he was.

“He just needed a little break,” Samantha said.

Other children found different ways to pass the time while waiting in line. Maggie Wallace, 2, sat down with a “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” book she got from her registration gift bag and pretended to read.

“She’s just looking at the pictures, because she’s a big PBS fan,” her mother, Kerry, said.

Kali stood on her tip-toes when her mother spotted Daniel Tiger returning for his photo shoot. Maggie dropped her book and stickers on the floor to get a peek, too.

They would soon get pictures and hugs from their favorite TV character.

“I’ve never seen so many people in line for Daniel,” WPSU marketing director Laura Miller said.

WPSU’s annual open house gets between 1,200 and 1,500 people each year, but Miller said that was when WPSU’s first floor was filled to capacity. Organizers decided to move Daniel Tiger and other activites to its second floor to spread out the crowd.

About 1,200 people attend the open house each year, Miller said. And this year, some extra space was opened up to accommodate the crowds.

“It’s interesting that it’s the first year we’ve opened up the second floor, and now both floors are filled to capacity,” Miller said. “It’s a good thing, because we want people to come and see this is where we’re at and learn about what we do.”

Vendors set up around the station, and Ashlee Wessel drew a steady line of about 20 children at the State College Friends School’s face-painting table.

Quillan and Hudson Phillips, both 4, showed off their Cat in the Hat face paint and goop, made from glue and water.

“It’s cool,” Quillan said as he squished the goop in a bag.

The open house was an educational experience for children.

Emily Carrollo, a Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center graduate assistant, had an owl perched on her hand, offering a lesson about local owls.

Michael, 9, and Nathaniel Moeny, 8, played a game on the Penn State Lunar Lion Club’s computer to see how gravitational pull works in space.

“We’re seeing how far we can get,” Michael said.

Lily Street, 6, learned how green screens work.

“It was really fun,” Lily, of Ebensburg said. “But I had more fun beating my mom in the balloon race.”

Vivian, 10, and Grace Campbell, 4, of State College, asked the Penn State Lion Tech Rocket Labs club how rockets work.

Grace was stunned when club members told her how high the rockets could go

“What?3,000 feet?” Grace said. “No way.”