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April 25. 2013 11:05PM

Merrimack day care center to hold kids' costume contest

MERRIMACK - Dressing as Captain America or Cinderella isn't just for Halloween.

The Learning Experience day care center is hosting a children's costume contest on Saturday with a $500 grand prize.

Opened in January, The Learning Experience owner John Veloz said he came up with the costume contest, which is open to the public, after watching how much fun his three daughters have playing dress up.

"We have gotten great feedback, I have heard from kids that they are already trying to plan what they are going to come as, and some parents are even making secret plans for the contest, everyone is gearing up for it," Veloz said.

Melissa Mowry, who is the business manager for The Learning Experience, said a strong turnout is expected as first place will receive $500, second place gets $250 and third place receives free tuition at the day care center for a week. In addition, there will be free food and activities at the event.

"Kids love to pretend, it's a fantasy, my personal favorite is Spider Man, look around on Halloween, everyone is a superhero," Veloz said.

In addition to the costume contest, Party Palace is planning character visits, where teens dress up and visit and play with the younger kids, the Gymnastics Village is providing balance beams and tumbling mats, and Jump Around is providing a bounce house.

With the theme of the contest being superheroes and princesses, Veloz said the contest is designed so that kids have a good time and local residents can get a better idea of the services that The Learning Experience offers.

"We want to stir up interest, and I know we opened in January but we also wanted to have a late celebration for our opening," Veloz said.

Veloz added that The Learning Experience is a national company that has over 200 daycare locations throughout the country. While some are operated at the corporate level, many locations operate as franchises, which is what Veloz purchased.

Even though it is a franchise and not operated by the main company, Veloz said he still must follow the curriculum put in place and that area and regional company managers inspect individual day care centers to ensure that they are complying.

With room for 150 children from six weeks old to five years old, Mowry said that only 18 children are currently enrolled.

However, Mowry added that another 22 families who are either expecting a child or will need day care in the future have already signed up.

"We are doing extremely well as projected per month, everything is moving along. Even though the economy is bad, the childcare industry is growing. Everything has matched up to my expectations when I started," Veloz said.



bklein@newstote.com


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