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Alle-Kiski Historical Society museum offers Black Friday event

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The Allegheny-Kiski Valley Historical Society's Heritage Museum exhibit coordinator Jamie Stoner and museum volunteer Sean Isaacs, both of Tarentum, examine coal-mining artifacts on Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, in preparation for the Black Friday event. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch

Jamie Stoner is anticipating Black Friday, but not for the amazing bargains she may find.

Curator of the Allegheny-Kiski Valley Historical Society's Heritage Museum, Stoner is excited because malls and department stores aren't the only places that will be packed on Black Friday.

The day after Thanksgiving, it turns out, is also a busy day for museums.

Dolly Mistrik, president of the Allegheny-Kiski Valley Historical Society Heritage Museum, credits Stoner with suggesting a special event that would cater to those who may look to hit the museum instead of the mall.

“She went down to the Carnegie (Museum in Oakland) one year (on Black Friday), and it was packed,” Mistrik says.

“When she asked what was going on, she was told that it is (the Carnegie's) and other museums' busiest day of the year, because people are looking for something to do with, and for the kids.”

Mistrik and Stoner hope to provide a day of fun for the family with a special program with the Tarentum museum's displays of Alle-Kiski Valley history. “Black Friday at the Museum” will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday. Admission is $3 and free for children.

Although geared toward children, Mistrik says kids of all ages are likely to enjoy the experience. Sometimes, she says, the parents get just as excited about seeing the museum as their kids.

Scavenger hunts and hands-on exhibits are two of the attractions planned to help patrons experience the Heritage Museum in a new way.

The scavenger hunts will offer challenges for two age groups — ages 3 to 6 and age 7 and older — in the form of questions. Everyone who completes a hunt will receive a prize.

In addition, touch table displays will let everyone literally wrap their hands around history by offering items related to life from the early 1900s, the military and local industries that can be picked up and examined.

“We want kids to be able to interact with some of our popular, as well as, some often-ignored exhibits,” Stoner says. “We want kids to be able to make a connection with history to realize this actually was real, it happened, and it happened here.”

History and Thanksgiving coloring pages will be available, too.

Stoner describes the Black Friday program as one akin to an open house.

“All the activities will be going on all day so people can feel free to stop in for a short visit or make a day of it,” she says.

For those who haven't visited the museum, she adds, they may want to anticipate spending a few hours there, because it's bigger than people realize. Docents will be on hand to help people and answer questions, but they won't be offering formal tours during the program.

That doesn't mean that patrons won't be as thrilled as a Black Friday shopper finding the perfect present at a bargain-basement price.

“To say we are excited about this event would be an understatement,” Stoner says. “We are always excited about all of our events. We want history to be something anyone can appreciate.”

Julie Martin is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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