Even if Twirl was nothing more than "that cool toy store with the big climbing nets in the courtyard," it would still be an epic destination for children of all ages. But the …
Even if Twirl was nothing more than "that cool toy store with the big climbing nets in the courtyard," it would still be an epic destination for children of all ages. But the wonder-filled store is actually the outer face of a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering play and creativity, community and collaboration, with classes and events offered all year long.
This Friday (Nov. 23), the organization will kick off the holiday season with its 11th annual Twirl Aglow Party from 3-6 p.m. at the store located at 225 Camino de la Placita.
Guests can enjoy hot cider and biscochitos, have their faces painted by acclaimed internationally acclaimed artistic couple Reto Messmer and Tatyana de Pavloff and dance to music in the courtyard. Twirl Aglow traditionally marks the first sighting of Santa Claus in Taos, and he will make his appearance, along with his elves and reindeer, to hear kids' heartfelt wishes.
Those with detailed wish lists can write them out and deposit them in a special North Pole mailbox. Upstairs, kids can take part in a variety of crafts and creative fun.
Admission is free and it's open to the public.
A visit to the Twirl Too studio behind the storefront, a week before Twirl Aglow may be the nearest thing to a peek into Santa's workshop. In the midst of a glorious festive clutter, two stunning, sophisticated women are in full working-elf mode: digging for materials, punching holes in plastic bottle caps to be upcycled into ornaments, winding rainbow yarn around pipe cleaner shapes and generally creating the joyful balance of order and chaos that humans experience as beauty.
Anaïs Rumfelt is officially known as Twirl's marketing and Playspace director and Nina Silfverberg as its public program manager. But these titles reflect only a small part of the work both women do in every aspect of Twirl.
"We all wear many hats," Rumfelt said.
"And they usually have glitter in them," added Silfverberg.
"Fun stuff happens here," said Rumfelt. "It's pretty entertaining. That's our whole job, to provide entertainment to children and families in this wonderful town. And the store is like the gift shop at a museum, full of beautiful things, and it helps support our other community projects."
"Because Twirl is a non-profit, we do things in the community that we plan as a team," said Silfverberg. "We're a small organization but we do a lot everywhere all the time, with our education projects focused on STEAM (the acronym for science, technology, engineering, arts and math). We've been a nonprofit for five years now. That's when I came on board. Anaïs was originally the designer, and then became so much more."
Eventgoers can buy raffle tickets for a chance to win prizes, including lift tickets and a stay at the Blake Hotel in Taos Ski Valley, and a $250 gift card to the Twirl store. "Most of the things we do at Twirl are free to the community, funded by grants, by the store and by individual donations, which we welcome of any size," Rumfelt said.
"Twirl Aglow embodies all of our values," said co-founder and executive director Nikki Ross. "Twirl was founded by mothers to fill a gap in the play and learning landscape. There weren't many options for kids to play and get together. That was the initial impetus, and the mission grew as our own kids grew. We get a lot of help for this event from Taos High School's Interact Club. They are the best, most amazing kids, and we are so thankful for them. Everyone who works here are the best Christmas elves in Taos. Laura Evalyn in the store really make it easy for parents to shop for their kids with the best selection of toys and games, and the money stays local and supports Taos kids."
The organization is tireless in its service to the community. Most recently, they cooked and distributed 500 hot dogs to Halloween trick-or-treaters, a counterbalance to the candy that was being given out by other merchants.
The weeks following the Twirl Aglow Party will offer Twirl Aglow field trips, with kids coming to take part in scavenger hunts designed to showcase the space's many creative wonders.
The annual Invent Event, a community celebration of technology and creativity, will be next April 27. "There are preschool classes in ballet and music throughout the year, and we always have various summer programming, cool creative stuff for kids to do," Rumfelt said.
Twirl always puts out a spectacular interactive installation for the Paseo Arts Festival, and is a participant in the annual Global Cardboard Challenge, where all are welcome to come construct whatever they can imagine from piles of cardboard.
Twirl also offers workshops at local schools. "Then we do family engagement nights around whatever programming we're doing," Rumfelt said. "We regularly go to (Taos) Pueblo Day School and have events with whole families crafting together. The last one we did was a construction play building night. We built a little village using shapes, toothpicks and candy. We explored the miracle strength of paper, with challenges like how many books can you balance on six sheets. It's all about creativity. When you use your mind at anything, you become better at everything."
For more information, visit twirltaos.org or call (575) 751-1402.
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