Before you know it summer vacation will be over and it will be time for school once again.
Before kids head back to the classroom, they were able to have a day of fun at the 11th annual Celebrate Youth Festival.
Youth Services System organized the event and they expected more than 6,000 people to pass through Wheeling Park on Thursday.
While the kids may have been distracted by the fun and games, there was a larger message, which was showing students how important they are in our communities.
“Youth are important in our communities. They make contributions to our community everyday and we started this event to highlight that and to highlight the fact that there’s a lot of organizations in this community that want families and youth to be successful,” said Mike Toothman with Youth Services System.
Since it began in 2008 this annual summer tradition has grown.
“Over the past 10 years we’ve had more than 49,000 people come out,” Toothman added.
More than 60 booths were set up to teach students how to make healthy choices and give away some free prizes.
” We got book bags!” exclaimed first grader Lillian Thorn.
“Getting a lot of fun toys and spending time with our friends,” added Aria Swartz when asked her favorite part of the day.
“We spun prize wheels and we played hockey,” said student Brian Gonzalez. “We played video games, which was really really fun.”
Some activities were just plain fun like face painting, performances from students on the youth stage, balloon animals and the bouncy house, which fifth grader Brookylnn Davis said was her favorite.
“I see blow-ups. I see games,” said second grader Jackson Clark when asked what he enjoyed checking out.
Whether kids are eager to get back to class or not, they were still able to learn a bit.
“Only reason is because I’m excited to know who my teacher is,” said fourth grader McKenna Guthoerl.
“Making new friends and getting a new teacher,” said third grade student Meleia Brothers when asked what she was excited for this year.
And spend some quality time with their families.
“I think it is amazing,” said mom Sharon Hillyer. “I’ve never seen anything like this. It has a great turn out. This is a really cool thing that they’re doing here for the kids.”
Youth Services System also said the festival is a way for people to connect with others and discover new community programs offered throughout the year.
“We enjoy this every year,” said Lacey Gonzalez, who brings her children each year. “We love the free giveaways. We love seeing the different people out here and it gives the kids something different to do before school gets started.”
Families who attended the event also had free access to Wheeling Park’s attractions throughout the day.
Youth Services System said the festival wouldn’t be possible without the help of its many sponsors and partners each year.