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Yuma residents come out to play
Yuma area residents of all ages gathered for a wet day of fun and food in the sun Saturday during the 9th Annual “Day For Kids — Come Out and Play” event.
More than 1,000 people participated in the festivities held at the Valley Aquatic Center and Sunrise Optimist Park. The free family event offered a range of activities including sports, games, contests, races, swimming, and a chance to play on Yuma's largest “Slip-n-Slide.”
The event was co-sponsored by the city of Yuma, and the Salvation Army.
“It is awesome,” said Liz Thompson, who came with her husband, Chuck, their 5-year-old son Jack and their 2-year-old daughter Melody.
“You get a hot dog, all the watermelon you can eat, and swimming. You can't beat it.”
The family had just finished swimming at the aquatic center, and had walked over to Sunrise Optimist Park to sit on the grass in the shade of a tree. Her kids happily ate hot dogs they had gotten for free from a nearby stand as she spoke.
Liz said she was pleased the city made the event possible.
“It just shows that they care about the people. It is nice to come out and see people happy and playing, and enjoying time together. I think that is very important.”
Tanner Jones and his wife, Cheryl, brought their three children to the aquatic center for a day of swimming. The family, who live in the Phoenix area, enjoyed the community gathering, and noted it was unique to a smaller city such as Yuma.
“I think it is great because it kind of highlights the local city,” Tanner said. “Coming from a big city, this doesn't happen quite that often.”
Their 6-year-old daughter Rylie said she was very excited about all the fun activities as she jumped up and down with a big smile on her face. She was eager to go and try the Slip-n-Slide, where city firefighters had connected a hose to a hydrant to create a huge waterfall for the kids to play in.
Even Yuma Mayor Al Krieger got involved in the event by giving a “proclamation of play.”
“Mayor Krieger is 100 percent all about play, and he even proved it by riding his unicycle around the pool and in the park,” said Debbie Wendt, city Parks and Recreation Department superintendant.
But before all the fun got started, about 60 Yuma residents and students from area high schools volunteered their time to clean up garbage and paint over graffiti at the park as part of the annual Spruce Up Your Park Day event.
The volunteers also cleaned up a dirt area to the northeast of the aquatic center and planted trees. The city is in the process of adding that area to Sunrise Optimist Park.
“There was a lot of clean-up,” Wendt said. “We planted some trees and cleaned up the berms. We had a lot of members from the community. I just want to say thank you. They helped us beautify our parks.”
The cleanup ensured the hundreds of families in attendance later in the day would be able to enjoy a clean and pristine environment, Wendt added.
The cleanup is one way the city maintains its designation as a Playful City USA, a title it has held proudly now for the past six years, Wendt said.
“That is part of our action plan, to go around and have an annual event where we can invite members of the community ... to clean up the playground, because that helps us stay a Playful City USA. We are all about play.”
Wendt said she thought everyone was “having a blast. I don't think they could have asked for a better day because of the weather.”
Both the cleanup and the play day was a great way to welcome the autumn, Wendt added.
“We only have about two weeks left of the Valley Aquatic Center being open, so it is a perfect way to end the summer.”
Wendt was grateful to everyone involved who made the event a success.
“I want to say thank you to all the organizations that have come out, our co-sponsors, and our staff that helped put this together,” she said. “We all have a lot of fun doing this.”
Chris McDaniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6849.