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Amazement Square Bounces Back from COVID and Prepares for the Ugly Bug Ball

Written by Alyssa Wilson ~ University of Lynchburg Bonner Intern 

Amazement Square was started as the City of Lynchburg’s very first children’s museum in 2001 after a council decided that a museum in the city would be an important asset to have and would serve the children of Lynchburg and beyond. 

In the early 2000s, Downtown Lynchburg went through an important revitalization period and Amazement Square was one of the first cornerstones of the initiative to make the downtown area like new again. 

Before the children’s museum moved into its current building, it served as an infirmary and commissary during the Civil War. Afterwards it became the site of a wholesale grocery store before Amazement Square moved in. 

The building has a rich background and the creators of Amazement Square have made sure to preserve the building and respect its history. 

The building contains many gems from its various lifetimes as its walls are still original and untouched from when it was used during the Civil War. On the outside of the building there is still painted wording advertising from when the building was a grocery store.  

Because Amazement Square never painted over the advertisements or washed it away, the bugs have become their mascot. 

This is where the name Ugly Bug Ball comes from, a fundraising event that Amazement Square hosts almost every year, this year being their 22nd year. This year the Ball will be taking place on Friday, Oct. 28. 

The Ugly Bug Ball is the biggest fundraising event that Amazement Square hosts every year, which is especially important for their recent rebound back from COVID-19. 

The organization is finally getting their numbers back up to what they looked like before COVID-19, averaging about 3,000 to 4,000 people every month who come from all over the central Virginia area. 

Amazement Square is one of the many nonprofit organizations in Lynchburg, so proceeds from the Ugly Bug Ball are vital to keeping their outreach programs up and running. 

Marketing and Communications Manager, Morgan Hughes says, “We do a lot more than just being a children’s museum. We do a lot of outreach programs, we do a lot of things for the schools around this area and beyond.” 

These outreach programs like ‘Everyone is Special’, a program initiative that works to help families who have children that have been diagnosed with autism. 

The program brings STEAM-based learning into classrooms that explore fine motor skills, math and reading skills, and play and emotional based learning. Amazement Square has brought together a team of special education experts and physicians to make this program as great as possible. 

Another program that the Ball benefits from is ‘Amazing Children’, which works to ‘transform underserved early learning facilities through interactive social-emotional-based classroom programming and professional development opportunities.’

Every year the Ball centers around one theme, this year being TV game shows. Each table represents a different theme show and guests at the tables have the option to dress up like the show. 

“We have shows like Holy Moly, The Great British Bake Off, and Family Feud,” says Hughes. 

All tables have fortunately been sold and the Ball will be at full capacity, however Amazement Square will still be hosting their silent auction which will be going online soon, although an exact date has not been released yet. You can learn more about Amazement Square and upcoming events at SHARE Greater Lynchburg.

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