Pigs, pigs, pigs
With an "oink, oink" here and an "oink, oink" there, Union Mills Learning Center on Hudlow Road was full of children on Wednesday afternoon making pig-themed crafts and learning about pigs as part of the library's summer reading program.
"Anytime you say, 'pig,' the kids perk up and come running," said Karyn Conner, volunteer at the Learning Center's library and tutor at Pinnacle Elementary. "We've had a really good turnout for our summer reading program this year."
In its third year of summer reading, the library provides the program for elementary age children at no cost.
Past programs have included storytelling, special guests and arts and crafts.
Earlier this summer, the library featured a fire truck from the Union Mills Volunteer Fire Department and also held a "Talk Like a Pirate Day."
"It's been nice to work with the smaller kids and read the fun children's books," said Pam Childers, volunteer at the Learning Center's library and retired librarian from East Rutherford High. "We ask the children to continue to check out books during the summer, and every kid will go home with a book of their choice at the end of this year's program."
During Tuesday afternoon's pig-themed activities, children crafted pig faces using pink and purple paper plates, construction paper, pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks.
Afterwards, children had time to visit with "Squeeky," a 4-year-old, 100-pound pot-bellied pig who loves to eat clover.
"She's a very friendly pot-belly — she doesn't like her nose to be touched but loves belly rubs," said Cathy Watson, Squeeky's owner. "She is actually a rescue pig I've had for three years and she's very socialized. I have always been an animal lover and didn't know I loved pigs until I rescued my first one."
Watson has been rescuing animals since 1995 and owns 30 acres where she allows more than 50 rescued pigs to roam around.
She even has llamas, goats, sheep, horses and an alpaca that she rescued.
The library's summer reading program ends on Wednesday, July 31 with foot painting activities for children.
"It's great how kids are really involved in summer reading," Conner said. "From here to town is 11-12 miles, so the library is a good resource. We want to continue to provide this extra resource out here for the kids."