Flustered crowds, long lines and barbaric conditions at big box stores are maybe what one typically thinks when the words “Black Friday” come to mind. Fortunately, there is a sparkle of goodwill and hope at Twirl, a play and discovery place in Taos for children.
The team of local mothers and children who run the one of a kind venue will be celebrating a 10-year anniversary with their annual party titled “Aglow” on Friday (Nov. 24), from 3-6 p.m., at Twirl, 225 Camino de la Placita in Taos. There will be face painting, live music and entertainment, a DJ, seasonal crafts, drinks and cookies, a raffle, and Taos’ first sighting of Santa Claus in 2017.
Twirl provides programs that support learning through play for children up to 12 years old. Their programs range from summer and day camps to free weekly preschool classes. The organization also arranges in-school enrichment activities, like on-site field trips that serve many of the area’s elementary students with signature activities like the “Invent Event” that brings the community together to make crafts and build them together.
Throughout the celebration’s years, the “Aglow” program has become a cornerstone of Taos’ holiday festivities. This year’s anniversary celebration will bring together a number of its first participants, alongside its current members. Students of Amber Vásquez, director of the Taos Youth Ballet, will be sharing a performance that all are sure to enjoy. Weekly, Vásquez instructs a free preschool ballet class at Twirl, as she has since the organization’s opening. Ivy Little, Twirl’s music class teacher, will conduct a performance by the current generation of her class members. In addition, the circus ladies from Twirl’s very first launch party will also be sharing the stage with their stilt-walking daughters for a grand finale performance.
Laura Evelyn manages the toy store portion of this enchanting and interactive children’s playland with kindness and patience. She, along with a dynamic and multifaceted team of mothers, started Twirl in 2007, and continue to run with a passion and commitment to the children’s community in Taos. As the organizers’ children grew, the mission of Twirl expanded to provide educational and recreational opportunities. In 2014, they transitioned from a for-profit organizational structure to a nonprofit so that they could apply for federal and state grant money, to better evolve programming and fill a void in the play and learning landscape for children in Taos. Evelyn said that visitors from all over the world come to explore and shop at Twirl. A question she often hears is, “ ‘Can you bring this to our community?’ I tell them we’ll put them on a list.”
Twirl’s Executive Director Nikki Ross, who is also one of the founding mothers, said, “I didn’t anticipate that Twirl would become a constant in the lives of so many children growing up in Taos. My kids were a given because they had no choice! But to see kids from our baby music classes now programming robots in our summer camps, and kindergarteners from our first theater camp running our snack cart and volunteering at those camps is cool.”
This is the first year Twirl is conducting a concerted year-end fundraising effort by inviting the community to support the organization with a tax-deductible donation. The Twirl board of directors will match every new donation. As part of the party’s program and fundraising efforts, attendees will be able to purchase raffle tickets to win a $500 Twirl gift card or a Taos Ski Valley package that includes a night at the Blake Hotel and two TSV day passes. Ross said “People think we’re just a toy store with deep pockets. Historically toy stores don’t turn a profit and are lucky to break even … we rely heavily on charitable contributions to keep going.”
Throughout the 2017 holiday season, children from Taos-area school districts can take part in free field trips to Twirl to participate in a scavenger hunt around the magical courtyard and take home a holiday spirit themed craft activity. Families can visit the display through Jan. 6, 2018. Every Saturday in December, Twirl will offer free seasonal crafts and warm cheer from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., including a teacher gift-making workshop on Dec. 9.
Ross said she sees the Twirl of the future continue to grow and change, “We don’t want to keep doing the same thing, we want to come up with surprises, for others and ourselves. [Metaphorically] we are moving into our teenage years as an organization, and the growing pains and joys associated with that time.”
One of the founding mothers of Twirl and its current marketing manager, Anais Rumfelt, said “The mission of Twirl has always been to give kids the impression that they can make whatever they can imagine; this is truly empowering. We live by our ideals which include the words creativity, collaboration, community and integrity. We’re very excited to see what the future holds.”
For more information, call Twirl at (575) 751-1402 or visit twirltaos.org.