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Ready to play
A portion of the Yuma community came together Saturday afternoon for a chance to make new friends, eat free hot dogs and splash around in the pool during the annual Kids - Come Out and Play Day. The event was hosted by the city of Yuma Parks and Recreation Department and the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club.
“Today is the day for kids to come out and play,” said Debbie Wendt, recreation superintendent for Yuma Parks and Recreation.
“It is a free event and people came out in droves.”
Nearly 2,000 people braved the triple digit heat to participate in the event which was held at the Valley Aquatic Center and the Sunrise Optimist Park.
“It's always sunny in Yuma,” Wendt said. “It is a perfect day. The weather is great, there is a little breeze coming through here. It might be 108, but we've got the pool to cool off in. It has been a perfect day and we couldn't ask for something better.”
Last year the event was held at Kennedy Park and Kennedy Pool. About 1,000 attended then. This year, for the first time ever, the Boys and Girls Club and the city of Yuma decided to team up.
“We decided to combine our resources and make it a huge day for the families because they had the same mission and goal in mind as we did,” Wendt said.
“We wanted to provide a great day at the pool, tons of activities and something free the entire family could come out and enjoy. We've had all kinds of great games and races in the pool.”
Salvation Army Capt. Tracie Hartt was happy to join forces with the city.
“I think it is great,” she said. “I love the fact we are collaborating together. (My husband and I) have only been here for a few months but the community has been really welcoming in allowing us to do this and becoming a part of this. That is really cool.”
The city of Yuma also brought out their $10,000 playground box set which they won recently for being a playful city USA.
The event was an end of the summer blast, Wendt said.
“This is a splash-tacular event. It has been a fantastic day. We could not have asked for a better day. We started out with the biggest splash, the fastest ride down the slide, the slippery watermelon, the noodle race and the kick board race. We also had jumpers and miniature ponies from Saddles of Joy. It has been a fabulous event and everybody came forward to help.”
The turnout was so great people had to wait in line to get access to the pool because it was at maximum capacity.
“It keeps growing every year,” Wendt said, adding the event is now in its sixth year.
“The first year it started out with 300, then we went to five then last year was our biggest year before this.”
Wendt said it is important for the community to play together.
“It encourages children to interact with each other and make friends. If you look over at the playground in a box right now children are creating something together. They may not know each other, but they are building something together, so it creates friendships – a community. They are laughing and having a great time spending quality time with their family.”
Hartt enjoyed serving up fresh grilled hot dogs and ice cold soda under the shady trees of the park as she watched the local kids playing with smiles on their faces.
“It's also nice for me to see my own children enjoying it ,” she said. “The jumping playhouse was a big hit and the soccer playing (ponies) were really cool. The Kids seem to be really happy.”
Early Saturday morning, the city of Yuma and community volunteers got together to clean the Sunrise Optimist Park in advance of the event.
“We had 21 people volunteer, including Optimists, Boy Scouts and the Yuma Jaycees,” Wendt said.
“We started at 6 a.m. We installed three disc-golf baskets, we improved exercise equipment and we put sand down in borders around it. We painted the playground and all the tables around the park. Without the help of those volunteers we would not have been able to get that done.”
The next event the city of Yuma Parks and Recreation is hosting will be the Children's Festival of the Arts which be held Nov. 6 in Downtown Yuma. For more information call
The next event for families will be the Children's Festival of the Arts on Nov. 6 in downtown Yuma. For more information call 373-5243.
Chris McDaniel can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6849.