SHIRLEY -- The Cub Scout Blue and Gold ceremony is held in February because that is the month that Scouting first started in 1930. Like many birthday celebrations, this year's Shirley Cub Scout Pack 31 bash had it all: colorful handmade decorations, good food, families gathered together, and a big surprise -- live rainforest animals.

Rainforest Reptile Shows culminated the evening's party with a wild presentation of an alligator, boa constrictor, tortoise, tegu lizard and other ectothermic brethren, but not before 14 Shirley Cub Scouts first received their well-earned advancement awards.

The Shirley American Legion hosted the event. Commander and Chaplain Charles Church gave the invocation, and Cubmaster Gary Bourassa presented the awards, beginning with the youngest Scouts.

Tiger Badge Awards went to Michael D'Ambrosio, Brady Davidson, Kevin Goncalves and Cole Heinle. Wolf Badges and one gold and two silver arrow points each were awarded to Brady Arsenault, Darien Slade and Keith Tamao.

Bowling Beltloops were awarded to Bear Cubs Alex Buddington, Danny McCarron and Nathaniel Perlman, and Scout Sunday awards went to Webelos 1 Scouts Colman Richards and Liam Bourassa.

Richards and Bourassa also earned several Pack awards at this year's Nashua Valley Council Polar Bear Derby. The boys won first place in the Gum Unwrap, Target Training and Winging Wildlife events, and third place in Tracking. They also won second place overall in the Derby, earning Pack 31 a red ribbon to add to its official Scout flag.

Webelos 2 Scout Xavier Bingle was awarded his four-year pin, two compass points, and a Handyman and Aquanaut activity badge. Fellow Webelos 2 Scout Dana Maloney was awarded his five-year pin, two compass points and a Handyman and Communications activity badge.

The two Webelos 2 Scouts also both earned the Arrow of Light, the highest award a Cub Scout can earn, as they transitioned to the status of Boy Scouts in Shirley Troop 7.

Troop 7 Scouts who helped the two "cross over" to Boy Scouts via a bridge of chairs were Doug Bingle, Matt Dean, Cam Landers, Shawn McGrath, Deran Quinty and Chris Reilly. Also present were Troop 7 leaders David Dean and Jim McGrath.

Other leaders who made the Scouts' achievements possible are: Committee Chairwoman Kathy Bourassa; Treasurer Deanna Blood; Assistant Cubmaster Kevin Blood; Tiger leader Anthony Davidson; Bear leader Sue McCarron; Wolf leaders Lori Slade and Donyale Tomao; Webelos 1 leaders Theresa and Matt Richards, with help from their son Greg; Webelos 2 leader Leann Saunders; and Charter Representative Bob Huxley.

After the potluck dinner and awards, Rainforest Reptile herpetologist Brendan Kelly entertained and educated the crowd as he introduced them to the world of reptiles. From the tegu lizard that used its forked tongue, usually reserved for seeking out a variety of foods, to tickle a Scout's head, to the large boa constrictor that took five volunteers to stretch across the stage, Kelly kept the audience enthralled and engaged.