Horizons Unlimited kicks off third annual Rowan Creek Week with planetarium, touch pond

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 22, 2021

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Horizons Unlimited on Saturday kicked off Rowan County’s third annual Creek Week with a planetarium exhibit of aquatic life, a marine touch pond and yoga.

Creek Week focuses on local waters throughout North Carolina and multiple environmental organizations and local municipal departments take part. The week-long event offers recreational, educational and volunteer opportunities to allow everyone to enjoy and contribute to healthy waters in the region.

Before the kickoff, around 20 volunteers gathered at Eagle Point Nature Preserve at 655 Black Road from 9 a.m. to noon for a clean-up event. Rowan County Soil and Water Conservation Education Coordinator Kelli Isenhour said there was less trash to clean up this year, and some volunteers were from Kannapolis, Concord and Davidson County.

Rowan County is hosting several events later this week in conjunction with Davidson County, which is holding its first creek week. Isenour said Rowan County’s program continues to grow, with more than 20 activities offered this year thanks to more donors, sponsors and partners.

From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., families were able to enjoy free treats from Pelican’s Snoballs in addition to a wetland nature walk.  “Underwater Fantasy” was shown three times in the planetarium. Narrator and Planetarium Director Neil Pifer discussed the benefits of coral reefs and how many of the fish consumed in restaurants come from coral reef environments. The planetarium also featured a short film about the hellbender salamander, or what Pifer told children is a type of dragon. The film included details about preserving the salamander, which lives in clean, swift-running waters in the eastern U.S. and is important to the rivers in the Appalachia region.

Sharon Beck led two yoga sessions for children and their parents using pinwheels to teach the children various breathing techniques. The purpose was to show children how they can use their breath when they’re stressed or not feeling well to calm themselves, which is a practice taught in modern western yoga, Beck said. Since masks were worn throughout the event, Beck said she showed the families techniques they can practice at home. The pinwheels came from Prevent Child Abuse Rowan.

Summer Howerton, a student at Catawba College, provided information to children and adults who visited the marine touch tank, which featured saltwater critters like starfish, shrimp and snails. Attendees could also tour the rainforest exhibit and see freshwater aquatic life housed in separate tanks.

The event also featured vendors and education about the county’s environmental resources and organizations. Vendors included Rowan County Soil and Water Conservation, nonprofit Muddy Sneakers and the city’s stormwater division. Public Works Administrative Services Manager Michael Hanna told of the city’s OSCAR device, which was installed in a creek that feeds into Memorial Park in 2019. Later this year, an OSCAR device will be placed in the stream at Hurley Park. OSCAR’s job is to capture litter that washes downstream from storm drains, which prevents the litter from polluting larger waterways and cluttering ponds.
“It was great to see so many families and community members engaged in learning and nature exploration together today while also finding out new ways to get involved in Creek Week,” said Elise Tellez, director of Horizons Unlimited. “We saw a little over 100 folks throughout the day.”

Events ongoing throughout the week include the Rowan Waterscapes exhibit by Plein Air Carolina at Rail Walk Studios and Gallery. Plein Air Carolina meets to discuss and participate in painting outdoors. The group’s exhibit is already installed at the Rail Walk and can be seen on Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A photo scavenger hunt will be held throughout the county that challenges participants to identify 10 photos correctly for a chance to win a prize. All photos are of water-related spots located on public lands and span all corners of the county. Prize drawing for $25 gift cards will be held Sept. 1, and three winners will be notified.

Water enthusiasts are encouraged to print, color and cut out Flat Storm E., which is the week’s mascot, and take the duck to their favorite water spots in the area. Photos of Storm E. can be shared on social media by tagging @rowancreekweek or using the #rowancreekweek hashtag. Photos can also be emailed to creekweek@rowancountync.gov. Each submission on social media or through email will enter the participant for a chance to win prizes.

Event and registration details for other activities can be found at rowancreekweek.org.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.