The Cambridge Wildlife Puppetry Project (CWPP) connects people of all ages to the urban wildlife and habitats of Cambridge, Mass. through participatory experiences in parades, puppetry and other visual and performing arts. Our artistic collaborators have included the Puppeteer’s Cooperative, Cambridge sculptor Michelle Lougee, Puppeteer Deborah Costine, Puppet Showplace Theater, and the Beautiful Stuff Project. Community partners have included the Cambridge Center for Families, the Martin Luther King Jr. Community School, Tobin Community School, Cambridge Camping Association, and the Pathways for Family Success program. We have received three Cambridge Arts Council/Massachusetts Cultural Council grants.
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Fresh Pond Day is one of our favorite days of the year because we meet so many local kids from all over the city face to face (beak to nose?).
This year was extra special because we were able to include in the parade our new alewife giant puppet, our new butterflies (two Orange Sulphurs and a Spicebush Swallowtail) moths (a Bent-Line Carpet Moth and a Wavy-Lined Emerald Moth), a new pug moth caterpillar, and our new Cardinal puppet.
Thanks to Fresh Pond Reservation for hosting our local species again!
We brought a habitat activity to the ranger’s table at the Cambridge River Festival June 2. It was fun to see friends old and new there and to see where the kids placed local species in the tree. Can you spot the woodpecker?
Second-grade students at Haggerty School made some awesome local bird masks with us in the school library in February and we returned to that school for Family STEAM Night in May.
We opened the spring season with our usual roamabout at the Cambridge Science Carnival on April 14. Then we ran three Kids, Bugs, Art events, combining citizen science for families and art for children, all in Cambridge outdoor locations, during the Boston Area City Nature Challenge, April 27–29! Read more.
In January we received word that we received funding for our Animal Celebrities campaign from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Cambridge Arts Council. We collaborated with the Visual and Performing Arts department of Cambridge Rindge and Latin School that very month to provide an animal movement workshop after school to high schoolers.
As we’ve done for the past five years, on a rainy Sunday in October we mustered families from Cambridge to march in the Honk! Parade as local animal species, along with brass bands and community and activist groups both local and national.
We collaborated in September with Fresh Pond Reservation staff to lead a workshop on Things That Fly in our city, including birds, insects, and even seeds! Kids made pollinator insect finger puppets and learned about examples of local species in this category with Ranger Jean. We were thrilled to have help from the volunteer organization People Making a Difference. PMD stayed on and contributed their artistic labors in creating a giant Alewife (fish) to our herd of animal puppets.
We’re thrilled that we were able to present a four-day summer wildlife event, the Cambridge Fly, Buzz, and Honk! Festival, during Art & Science in Riverside Press Park,
held August 7–August 10. Kid campers from the Morse Community School, and the King Community School, as well as daycare providers and parents with kids, were able to make animal art, animal sounds, and be in an animal parade. Here’s what we did on each day of the festival:
Earlier in the summer, as usual, our Cambridge Wildlife Puppets met and greeted kids and parents at Fresh Pond Day.
Also in the spring of 2017, we “roamed about” as Cambridge wildlife species at the Cambridge Science Carnival (April 15th) and at the Cambridge River Festival (June 3rd). We held a wildlife puppetry bonanza featuring Deborah Costine on June 7th. At the June 7th event, in addition to presenting Costine’s performance of “Turtle’s Wetland Quest,” we engaged more than 50 kids in puppet-making and mask-making at the Tobin Community School.
While it was still cold outside, we collaborated with the Beautiful Stuff Project to work with families of the Cambridge Pathways Program to work on a new giant Northern Cardinal puppet (February). Kids made their own cardinal masks.
In 2016 our puppets and puppeteers participated in the Cambridge Science Carnival, Fresh Pond Day, and the Cambridge Carnival. We also ran our first Fly, Buzz, and Honk! event, focused on flying creatures. We marched in the Honk! Festival, in significant rain, with just a few waterproof costumes and puppets.
See us marching in the 2013 Honk! Parade in this video.