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6 'Little' Things To Do This Weekend In Kansas City

Nick Harris

The big holidays are almost here. But there’s still time to do something that’s little before having a momentous bite of turkey or ceremonial cup of cheer.

This weekend may be your last chance to enjoy a tinier activity compared to family gatherings and parties that can be consuming and more than a tad crazy – “OK, Uncle Phil, it’s time to take off the lampshade now.”

So before it all gets larger and nuttier – “Now means now, Uncle Phil!” – do something smaller. From insects and puppets to marbles and more, take a walk on the little side.

1. Xtreme Bug
Bugs are very little. To see and understand them better, more than 100 normally itty bitty creatures from the insect family are depicted as giants in this wild and educational exhibit. Look an ant in the eye. Meet a mantis. Even if you’ve seen a scorpion, you’ve never seen one like this before. Visitors can also learn about insect migration, hibernation and predation – that last one is a killer – as well as the impact of bugs on the windshield of pop culture. Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; noon-5 p.m. Sunday; Union Station, 30 W. Pershing Road, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $12.50, $9.50 (ages 3-12).

2. Moon Marble Company
See glass marbles made by hand and put into the paws of marble fans at this area shrine to the little orbs that folks have been shooting and saving since antiquity. Moon Marble Company’s artistic marble makers have individual styles and use different colors to create a unique plaything and/or collectible every time. Just be careful about playing for keeps, kids! Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; 600 E. Front St., Bonner Springs, Kan.; free marble-making demonstrations late morning and early afternoon Friday and Saturday.

3. Model Railroad Experience
It may not be news to hardcore model train aficionados – who tend to keep track of this sort of thing – but the Model Railroad Experience at Union Station will reopen at 6 p.m. Saturday following a week of “holiday construction.” Talk about family friendly: Could a visiting infant’s first words be “choo-choo”? One thing’s for sure: The 8,000-square-foot display of toy trains traveling around mini buildings, trees, cars and people is guaranteed to draw far bigger crowds once the holiday season officially begins. You don’t have to be the caboose on this. Saturday, 6 p.m.-midnight; Sunday, 6 a.m.-midnight; Union Station, 30 W. Pershing Road, Kansas City, Mo.; free to all visitors.

4. Puppetry Arts Institute
Hands-on fun and history await visitors to the Puppetry Arts Institute, where kids of all ages can make their own hand puppets and learn from such museum exhibits as “Puppets around the World.” There are also colorful examples of Punch and Judy, the classic puppet characters best known for yelling and hitting each other – maybe so we don’t have to? Such is the power of puppetry. Thursday, noon-5 p.m.; Friday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; 11025 E. Winner Road, Independence, Mo.; museum admission: $3 (puppet-making extra).

5. KC Performance Archery & Range
The bullseye is small, unlike the thrill when you hit it. And, thanks to luck, even first-time archers aiming at a target 30 yards away can experience the excitement of delivering an arrow to its intended mark. (I count the whole target as the bullseye, but that’s just me.) Be the Arrow Master – or not – at this 21-lane indoor archery range, where beginners easily mingle with seasoned enthusiasts. Thursday and Friday, 4-9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m.; KC Performance Archery & Range, 716 S. Rogers Road, Suite B, Olathe, Kan.; fees: $8 one-hour open shooting; $20 bow and arrow rental.

6. Santa Clause Conquers the Martians
Little green men are part of the story in Martin City Melodrama’s holiday production pitting the jolly old elf himself against the oddly diminutive inhabitants of the planet named for the Roman god of war. How did Santa get mixed up in such silly hostilities? Besides actors purposely hamming it up for laughs – this is a mock melodrama, after all – Martin City’s perennial holiday extravaganza once again includes the popular Water Glass Symphony. It wouldn’t be the holidays at Martin City without it. But I have to ask: If the little green men are from the “Red Planet,” how come they’re green? I’m waiting. Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 3:30 p.m.; Martin City Melodrama at the Great Plains Mall, 20700 W. 151st St., Olathe, Kan.; tickets: $13.99(evening), $11.99 (matinee).

Brian McTavish follows popular culture in the belief that the search for significance can lead anywhere. Brian explains, "I've written articles and reviews ... reviewed hundreds of concerts, films and plays. And the thing is, these high arts all sprang from the pop culture of their day. Don't forget: Shakespeare was once Spielberg."
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