Campfire Chats Shed Light on Nature and Its Wonders

Here's an outdoor activity that won't make you sweat--unless you sit too close to the flames.

While campfires may seem to go more hand-in-hand with summer, Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve keeps its monthly program going all year. The Saturday evening events include skits and sing-alongs and a speaker who will talk about a natural history subject.

The next program is Saturday, featuring marine biologist Juan Hernandez of the state Department of Fish and Game. He will talk about sharks--the facts as well as some of the popular fictions. His discussion of the shark's life history will include information on the risks to Southern Californian surfers, swimmers and divers.

Campfire lighting takes place at 7:15 p.m., with skits and other activities beginning at 7:30 and the speaker taking over at 8 p.m. The whole thing breaks up by 9 p.m.

Participants are urged to bring a jacket or Windbreaker, as the evenings can be quite cool.

Upcoming programs in the series: March 18, a group of Orange County park rangers who perform skits and original songs; April 8, Dick Zembal of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who will speak about preserving Orange County's wildlife heritage.


Lest runners feel left out, here's a couple of big local events this weekend:

* The Los Alamitos 10K/5K run and 5K walk goes off Saturday. The event features cash prizes of $75 to $250 for the top three men and women in the 10K, as well as prizes of $25 to $250 for the top four wheelchair athletes in the 10K.

Both of the flat courses begin at the community center, 10911 Oak St. Entry fee is $17 for each of the running events, $7 for the walk. Race-day registration begins at 6:30 a.m.; the 5K run starts at 8 a.m., the 5K walk at 8:05, and the 10K run at 8:45.

Information: (310) 430-1073.

* On Sunday, it's Spirit Run '95, billed as the largest 5K/10K in the county, with an expected turnout of about 5,000 this year, up slightly from '94.

The event starts and finishes at the Edwards Newport Cinema, 300 Newport Center Drive, and also includes one-mile and half-mile runs for children up to 10 years old.

Entry fees are $18 for adults, $16 for children 12 and under and for seniors. Race-day sign-ups start at 6:30 a.m., the 10K run starts at 7:30 a.m. and the 5K run/walk at 8:15.

The "Little People" events are 9:30 a.m. for 9- and 10-year-olds, 9:50 for 7- and 8-year-olds (all one mile), and 10:10 for those 6 and under (a half-mile course).

Information: (714) 509-2904.

* What: "Sharks: Fact and Fiction," campfire program.

* When: Saturday, Feb. 25, 7:15 p.m.

* Where: Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve.

* Whereabouts: From Coast Highway in Newport Beach, head north on Jamboree Road and turn left on Back Bay Drive. The reserve parking lot on Shellmaker Island is on the left, past Newport Dunes.

* Wherewithal: Free.

* Where to call: (714) 640-6746.

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