SEMINOLE — The child can be found each weekday just before noon inside “Kid Town” at the Jasmine Moran Children's Museum.
He'll plunge his arm in soapy water and then stick it through a bubble wall.
Then he'll rush over to the Super Service Center to work on the little red car.
Making a U-turn, he heads back to the audio-kinetic exhibit and plops down on an adjacent bench. He's mesmerized as the balls follow tracks, up, down, over and under, ringing bells along the way.
But then it's time for Melvin Moran, the 81-year-old child, to return to work as chief executive officer of Moran Oil Enterprises and Moran-K Oil.
This week, the children's museum, of which Melvin and wife Jasmine are co-founders, enters its 20th year.
Initially, they hoped for 20,000 visitors annually. Instead, they've never had less than 50,000 visitors in a year and this spring will likely welcome the 1 millionth visitor.
Although Melvin enters the building as an adult and becomes a child, most visitors, generally ages 3 to 12, enter as children and become pilots, firefighters and shoppers at the grocery store.
“We encourage children to do, to act, to role-play,” Melvin said. “We encourage children to be thinking about what they want to be when they grow up and they will role-play as a doctor or nurse in the health care exhibit, as a lawyer or judge in our courtroom, or as a paleontologist, a railroad engineer, an oil operator, a teacher, an artist and many, many other professions.
“I love to do these things. I'm still a child at heart and when I see kids enjoying themselves and having fun and learning, I get very excited.”
Time to play
The 1921 Model T near the front of the building is the shortened-version of what the museum is about. Other places might bear a “Do not touch” sign. At the Jasmine Moran Children's Museum, they've had to refurbish the seats two or three times because of the intense use by children driving down the roads of their imaginations.
A “Do touch” sign would be more appropriate in this museum.
Touch the brushes and goggles. Become a paleontologist and brush away the sand until you find the Stegosaurus cast embedded in the ground.
Touch the steering wheel of a 1937 fire truck.
Touch your hands together with soap and water and then run them under a screen to see how clean they are before you operate in the hospital exhibit.