STEPHEN HEMELT — Museum blasts off to the future with family fueled fun

Published 7:05 am Monday, February 24, 2020

Darth Vader, Engineers Without Borders, snakes, robots and firefighters are just some of the attractions sure to stoke your imagination during this week’s family fun day at the Museum of the Gulf Coast.

New Education Coordinator Brittany Delagarza has gathered an eclectic group of contributors to offer a wide range of entertainment to the free event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 29) at the Port Arthur museum.

“All of the fun is really in the experience,” she told me. “When you walk in, you are going to see history, the future — with engineers, robots —and also the fun side of it. Everybody loves Star Wars. If you always wanted to meet Darth Vader or Princess Leia, take this opportunity next weekend.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Delagarza said museum leaders want to touch on twins themes of “futuristic” and “3020” to best connect our region’s youngest generation to the award winners and famous faces of the past.

“It’s not just history or the fact that this was once a railroad town,” she says. “It’s also the next chapter that we are trying to write. For our kids, students and young generation that come through, they need to see that Southeast Texas isn’t just (petrochemical) plants or people in the country. There are careers and opportunities. I feel like the museum shows young people that they are from an area where a lot of other people have made something of themselves on a national and international level.”

Saturday (Feb. 29) offers the perfect introduction into that concept.

Delagarza, originally of Waller, took over as museum education coordinator a couple of months ago with a passion for fresh ideas.

She wants to involve STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) into the museum’s quarterly family fun days.

The goal is for children, teens and adults to have fun as a family AND learn something before they leave.

She recently reached out to the Lamar University College of Engineering, which led to contacts with the school’s Engineers Without Borders and robotics club, both of which will be represented next week with hands-on exhibits and demonstrations.

“A lot of engineers go from the university to (local petrochemical companies) so I wanted to show the kids these opportunities are right here,” Delagarza said. “As with the robotics club, I thought that would be a really good opportunity to show them you can go to school and learn this kind of field and also make a lot of cool things with it. It will tie in nicely.”

A partnership with Charitable Force will include contributors on scene dressed up like Darth Vader, storm troopers, Kylo Ren and Princess Leia.

Other highlights include snake demonstrations, crafts, face painting and fun with a Port Arthur Fire Department truck and firefighters.

Best of all, the event is free. Call 409-999-6284 or log onto for more information.

The “3020” futuristic art show winner will be announced at 2 p.m. and celebrated with a reception.

“This is an experience a lot of kids don’t get to really do outside of school,” Delagarza said. “This is a good opportunity to experience that with their families.

“Especially with the time period we are sort of in, it’s good for people to know about the importance of science in schools. That needs to be pushed more.”

Next Saturday’s fun at the Museum of the Gulf Coast is another example of how this Jefferson County landmark is constantly delivering on the promise of inspiring our youth by celebrating our past. I look forward to joining in on the fun with my family.

Stephen Hemelt is the publisher of The Port Arthur News. He can be reached at 409-721-2445 or