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Patch Passport: Venture Out to Norton, Pawtucket and Falmouth

Revisit your younger days when you hopped in the car, started the engine and drove off in search of something fun. The Sunday Patch Passport maps out where you can go on a 15-, 30- or 60-minute drive from your home. You won’t want to miss these unique sto

Revisit your younger days when you hopped in the car, started the engine and drove off in search of something fun. Here are three unique options for you, depending on how far you want to drive. Visit one, or visit all of them. How far will you go?

15 Minutes: Winslow Farm Animal Sanctuary, located at 37 Eddy St., Norton

While well-known in town as a great place to bring the kids, Winslow Farm Animal Sanctuary is a hidden gem on the south shore. This non-profit organization rescues and houses mistreated and abandoned animals such as horses, swans, sheep and peacocks. The farm allows visitors to get up close to these animals and learn about them. Special events are also held year-round, like Movies Under the Stars, the haunted trail and more.

Admission to Winslow Farm is $7 for adults, $5 for children and kids younger than 2 are admitted free. Admission prices are subject to change for special events; contact Winslow Farm for more information.

Hours are Mondays, 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesday through Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Also open by appointment.

30 Minutes - McCoy Stadium, Pawtucket RI

Just 15 minutes from Attleboro, McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, RI offers an inexpensive alternative to Fenway Park for families and baseball fans. Tickets for the games range from $5 for seniors and children, to $11 for box seats. General admission tickets cost $7.

If you get hungry at the game the stadium has a variety of foods to choose from including the traditional ballpark staples of hot dogs, peanuts and beer to more local favorites like doughboys and Del’s Frozen Lemonade.

The atmosphere is family friendly at McCoy with the teams’ polar bear mascot Paws around to entertain and take photos with young fans. The ballpark also features an iParty Kids Zone with pitching and batting games for kids to play.

The stadium DJ seems to know what kids really like as the crowd of fans often sing along to the SpongeBob SquarePants theme song when it is blasted over the loudspeakers.

Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You” and Justin Bieber’s “Baby” are also popular choices for sing alongs amount the crowd.

The true baseball fans that make the trip will enjoy the cozy confines of the 10,000 seat park, which allow each seat to be relatively close and provide a solid view to the on field action.

Passport to Players

They will also likely enjoy the chance to see a potential future star as PawSox history is filled with Red Sox stars who plied their trade for the AAA affiliate before making it to Boston. Jim Rice and Wade Boggs each spent two seasons with Pawtucket before embarking on their Hall of Fame major league careers.

Current Red Sox stars Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilus, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Bucholz and Jon Lester all spent a season or more playing at McCoy before getting the call to “The Show.”

On the other end of the spectrum, a minor league game is a chance to see players whose stars have begun to fade and are trying to work their way back to the majors for one more chance at glory.

Kevin Millwood and Hideki Okajima fall into this category, as both are former All-Stars who have struggled in recent years and are trying to get their careers back on track.

History Around the Concourse

Fans of baseball history might want to take their time traveling around the concourse as the team has put murals and posters depicting famous players and events that have occurred throughout the stadium’s 65-year history.

The most attention, of course, is paid to the team’s claim to fame: the longest game in professional baseball history. The game lasted 33 innings, 32 of which were played on April 18 and 19, until the game was suspended at 4:05 a.m. The game resumed June 23 and lasted just 18 minutes before the winning run was finally driven home.

One underrated feature of going to a game at McCoy, or really any minor league game, is the change in the atmosphere and attitude that is present in the fans.

Anyone who has been to Fenway Park knows that the fans can be unnaturally intense a times. Many seem to live and die with the success and failure of every pitch.

McCoy is much more laid back, there seems to be much more perspective that the outcome of each individual game is not essential.  There is an understanding that it’s a minor league game, there will likely be mistakes, and these players are here to learn.

In the minors it really doesn’t matter who wins or loses, but how they played the game and that can be refreshing and relaxing experience.

One Hour: Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Falmouth MA

There’s a block party on Cape Cod, about an hour away from Sharon, soon.

Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve’s watershed block party is the research and education facility’s biggest program, held Tuesday, Aug. 2 this year, event and volunteer coordinator Laurie Tompkins says.

“We invite all of our watershed neighbors to come and exhibit,” she says, and there are hands-on activities, as well as “free ice cream and watermelon supplied by local vendors.”

The Waquoit Bay Reserve is among 28 research and education facilities nationwide, she says.

The facility hosts a number of summer, kid friendly events, she says, including a Junior Ranger program for ages 8 and up.

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