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Toledo noted for its family fun

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An annual family crowd-pleaser is the Applebutter Festival at Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio.

WADSWORTH / BLADE Enlarge

For anybody with a fondness for baseball, a trip to the new Fifth Third Field in downtown Toledo has to top the list of outings for the year ahead.

April 9 is the afternoon home-opener for the Toledo Mud Hens, and April 10 is the first night game at the attractive brick-walled stadium, where the gates will be adorned with 18-foot-high wooden bats and steel catcher's mitts.

It's particularly kid-friendly. Youngsters will be invited to run the bases after each game. A play area behind centerfield will have a marsh theme, so designed because that's where mud hens wallow. And after Saturday night games, fireworks will decorate the sky above the field.

Expect it to cost more to take-me-out-to-the-ballgame. General admission tickets will be $8, up by a buck for adults, but remain at $6 for children. Parking in city-owned lots will cost $2, more in private lots.

The field, a few surrounding cafes and pubs, and the nearby Erie Street market, are a few of the many wonderful places-to-go, things-to-do in Greater Toledo.

COSI celebrates its fifth birthday in March with a new Explorer Zone. Opening March 15, the zone will feature 30 hands-on and discovery exhibits that will change annually, said Lori Hauser, marketing director at the downtown science center.

Lumbering into COSI for a June 7 to Sept. 3 stay is a 45-foot-long replica of the T-Rex dinosaur named Sue that is housed in Chicago's Field Museum.

At the Toledo Zoo, the new wolf exhibit and a returning bird show are 2002 highlights. Four young gray wolves, born in captivity in Minnesota, are sisters. They can be observed from inside a log cabin with a viewing area.

Close Encounters of the Bird Kind is a 25-minute outdoor show featuring birds from around the world. They take wing and soar at daily performances from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Attractions of the vegetative kind include the Toledo Botanical Garden's 57 acres of artistic landscape (open dawn to dusk, year round), the charming Schedel Arboretum and Gardens (featuring a waterfall and pagoda) in Elmore, and the 577 Foundation on the banks of the Maumee River in Perrysburg.

Maumee Bay State Park, east of Toledo, has beaches, a boardwalk through wetlands, paths for biking and skating, a giant sledding hill, and an interesting nature center. Free outdoor entertainment is held at the amphitheater throughout the summer.

Sailing and canoeing skills are taught for modest fees at Toledo's Community Boating Education Center. The center is located at the public docks next to Walbridge Park across from the zoo's Broadway entrance.

The view of downtown Toledo is spectacular from the pilothouse of the 617-foot S.S. Willis B. Boyer maritime museum, docked at International Park. It's open through the winter Weds.-Sun, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (call first to make sure a guide is there, 936-3070), and from May 1 it will be open daily. Volunteer guides are needed, said Edward Goyette, executive director of the circa 1911 floating museum.

The ship had a long career hauling iron (enough to build 1,500 cars per load), coal, and other dry bulk-cargo throughout the Great Lakes. Its double steering wheel is particularly unusual.

Just south of Bowling Green is the Wood County Historical Museum with its infirmary, lunatic house, pest house, and slaughterhouse. On the lighter side, the grounds also have wooded walking trails and picnic areas.

In Archbold, Sauder Village depicts pioneer life and features artisans at work. A variety of special events are scheduled throughout the year, from fiddling contests to quilt shows.

New at Cedar Point will be a 30-minute ice-skating show featuring 16 professional skaters and five characters from the Peanuts comic strip. The high-energy performance will be housed in the renovated Imax Theater, said Janice Witherow, public relations manager. The idea for a show on ice was drawn from the popular ice shows at Knott's Berry Farm in Orange County, Calif., an amusement park owned by Cedar Point's parent company, Cedar Fair, L.P.

Steep and new is Wicked Twister, Cedar Point's 215-foot-tall, 72-mph roller coaster shaped like a giant “U.”

Also steep and new are the Sandusky park's 2002 ticket prices: $42 for people over 48-inches tall, $25 for people 60 and older, and $20 for children over 3. The park opens in May.

At the nearby Museum of Carousel Art and History ( in Sandusky, a show on restoration of carousel horses and animals opens in April. It features the work of Michigan restorer, Tony J. Orlando.

The life of Langston Hughes, poet and writer, is celebrated Wednesdays through Sundays this month at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich. Also on display is the bus ridden by Rosa Parks, a black woman who was arrested in 1955 in Montgomery, Ala. after refusing a white man's request to give him her seat. The museum purchased the bus last year for $492,000.

In March, puppet shows, workshops, and exhibits entertain. And at the Dearborn complex's Imax Theatre, tickets are selling fast for Disney's Beauty and the Beast, showing through March 11.

Opening March 4 is the new Benson Ford Research Center, a 66,000-square-foot, $17 million facility that will house the museum's reading room, a gallery, and vast collections of correspondence and memorabilia from Henry Ford and the early days of the Ford Motor Co.

The adjacent Greenfield Village reopens April 1, and one of its first guests will be Thomas the Tank Engine, the subject of beloved British children's stories. Rides on a train pulled by the cheerful Thomas will be available (tickets are an additional $10) during its stay from April 18-24 and 27-28.

And weekends in late April and early May, visitors can help farmers prepare the fields for tilling and watch crops being planted as they were in the 19th century.

Across the parking lot from the Henry Ford Museum is the Automotive Hall of Fame which has interactive exhibits including car and hot rod design.

Hundreds of day-tripping ideas are listed in Kids Love Ohio and Kids Love Michigan by Michele and George Zavatsky.

An events line is updated weekly by the Greater Toledo Convention & Visitors Bureau at 241-1111. The Ohio Historical Society will send a free package including maps and interesting sites (1-888-909-OHIO). For information about events and places to visit in Michigan, call 1-888-78-GREAT.

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