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Traveling dinosaur exhibit coming to Watertown Municipal Arena this weekend

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WATERTOWN — The Watertown Municipal Arena will resemble a scene out of the Steven Spielberg classic sci-fi adventure “Jurassic Park” this weekend.

“Discover the Dinosaurs,” a traveling museum-quality exhibit featuring more than 40 life-size and moving replica dinosaurs, has taken over the city’s arena at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds off Coffeen Street.

Based in Minnesota, the exhibit makes its first stop in Watertown. The walk-through display, featuring dinosaur scenes, opens Friday night and runs through Sunday.

Sometimes people think they’re going to see real live dinosaurs, said show manager Jake Karan, who’s traveled with the exhibit for more than 1½ years. But they’ve been dead for millions of years, he said.

“Some kids do get scared,” he said.

With a push of a button, children can control the motion of many of the animatronic dinosaurs. The prehistoric creatures move their heads, arms and tails, then breathe and roar to life.

It’s a good way for children to learn what it was like when dinosaurs roamed the earth 65 million years ago, Mr. Karan said.

On Tuesday, a 12-member crew set up the walk-through exhibit, consisting of static replicas that children and adults can touch. They made sure the creatures and the recordings of roars worked properly.

“I consider myself a fake paleontologist,” said Mr. Karan, who has learned a lot about dinosaurs since he started traveling from town to town with the show.

As a youth, he became interested in dinosaurs when “Jurassic Park” appeared in the movie theaters. Starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldbum, the 1993 film depicts genetically engineered dinosaurs causing havoc at an island amusement park. But Mr. Karan said children need not be worried about being gobbled up like a character in “Jurassic Park.”

The Minnesota company has two other traveling exhibits of “Discover the Dinosaurs” on the road. To attract the exhibit, the Parks Department made sure that the arena was big enough to hold the creatures and had the electrical capability.

The show also includes a Junior Paleontologist dig, an educational film, dino rides, a bounce house and a gift shop. Hours are noon to 9 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $16 for seniors, $18 for adults and up to $22 for children ages 2 to 12 for additional activities. Individual ride tickets are $5 to $6.

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