BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) — Community organizations recently gathered at the Bristol Historical Society, offering a variety of educational activities, games and entertainment for local children.

Dozens of families moved from table to table at the building at 98 Summer St., checking out tables dedicated to science, nature, arts and crafts and much more. Meanwhile, Tom Vaughn entertained with seasonal songs on violin. Several curious children stopped by to see the instrument up close, and Vaughn was happy to oblige.

"When I was growing up, I always wanted to play violin, but violin people never let me handle their instruments because they were extremely valuable," he said. "I want to help children understand."

Tim Callanan, fire inspector with the Bristol Fire Department, played a modified game of Tic-Tac-Toe in which children were quizzed on fire safety. He made sure that children knew to stop, drop and roll if their clothes were on fire, to stay low to the ground if smoke is in the house, and to regularly check their smoke alarms. He also gave away a children's book on fire safety and a plastic fire hat for those who won.

"We like to start young so that kids catch on by the time they grow up they know what to do," he said. "Most adults are at least aware of smoke detectors. We also stress that smoke moves quicker than fire and that the first thing you should do is get out of the house and call 911."

Craig O'Neil, of the Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut, introduced children to Bindi the bearded dragon, a wood frog and a tree frog and Mr. Yoda the Eastern box turtle.

"We just reopened for the season," said O'Neil. "This event is a great way to let kids know where we are and we're passing out some literature if they want to sign-up for our summer camp. We hope that by getting hooked on animals, children will come to appreciate nature and that it hopefully leads to them making conservation efforts."

Nancy Wasielewski stopped by the museum with her 7-year-old daughter, Serenity, who attends school in New Britain.

"It's nice for her to have something to do during her week off," said Wasielewski.

The family participated in carnival games and science experiments and later visited with the animals.

Nearby, Gabe Finkenstein showcased the carousel restoration work done by his father, Bill Finkenstein, as well as puppets created for his company, Elmwood Productions.

"I have photos that show carousels my dad designed for an endangered species-themed carousel," he said. "I also have a carousel horse head sculpture in progress to show the process by which a block of wood was transformed into an animal. Later on, Cortlandt Hull will show some of my Animal Behaviors kid's show, which includes my puppets."

Betty Christophy offered a game with quiz cards where children touched wires to tin foil. If they got the right answer, a circuit would be completed, lighting up a light bulb. Magician The Great Leone also entertained with illusions, making sponge balls disappear after seemingly rubbing them into his hands and then reappear in a previously empty bag.

Patti Philippon, executive director of the American Clock & Watch Museum, led children in a craft activity to make party hats or wristwatches.

"We're had children making a couple of each," she said around noon. "We've had everything from SpongeBob to more traditional clocks. It is fun seeing what kids decide to create."

Artist Cortlandt Hull drew and colorized the scene where The Grinch met Cindy Lou Who from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" as children looked on.

Haley McDonald, a sixth-grader who said she was born in Bristol but now lives in Canton, said she enjoyed playing the carnival games at the event, which included a ring toss and a game where children knocked down duck pins with bean bags.

She later watched Hull as he worked on his drawing.

"It has been really fun," she said. "I'm not really that good at art; I'm more into fashion design." ''You'll get there, you just have to keep at it," said Hull encouragingly.