August 10, 2008 in City

Kids cut loose at Riverfront Park

Thousands turn out for annual children’s fair
By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photo

Chanelle Bridges, 5, of Spokane, moves to the beat during dance lessons by Pony Tales Youth Services on Saturday in Riverfront Park.
(Full-size photo)

Here’s a tip: When participating in KSPS’s KidsDay at Riverfront Park, hold off on the face paint until after you’ve run through the Rotary Fountain.

“It’s just about all come off by now,” said Sandy Roda, of Spokane, as she watched her two nieces play in the fountain. “They’ve had a blast here today. We’ve done the jumping castle, face painting, and we’ve gotten balloon hats; it’s just been really nice.” Roda’s 4-month-old son was sound asleep in the stroller.

“He’s a bit too little this year, but we are definitely coming back next year,” Roda said. “I didn’t know it was this big.”

It was the 24th time KidsDay was celebrated in Spokane, and businesses, nonprofits and public service programs from all over the area had booths at Riverfront Park. Also, there were booths from Health For All; the Women, Infant and Children’s program; Spokane Regional Health District, Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery; and many other groups.

“It’s a perfect day, and it’s a great crowd,” said Kerry Faggiano, marketing director at KSPS. “We usually see a lot of the same faces, but this year there’s been a lot of young families, a lot of babies.” Faggiano estimated that attendance compared to last year was up by a couple of thousand, to 12,000 people.

KidsDay also features popular characters.

Elmo, Cookie Monster and Gordon – all stars of Sesame Street – got families dancing and clapping during their shows.

Ronald McDonald was busy signing autographs and having pictures taken with his young fans.

“We’ve had a line since 11 this morning,” said Kari Rose, who works for McDonald’s and helped Ronald set things up. “We had someone come up and give us a donation, and many people tell us about how they’ve stayed at the Ronald McDonald House.”

Children in line for Ronald McDonald were mesmerized.

“They ask all kinds of questions about Ronald, like where he lives and what he likes to eat. It’s really fun,” said Rose.

The Spokane Police Department was a big hit, letting children sit in the back of a cruiser or astride a police motorcycle, and so was the Spokane Fire Department’s firetruck.

“Mostly, the kids want to know how much water it squirts,” said firefighter Jeremy Morash, who was showing off various hoses. “And they love sitting in it like they are driving it. They can’t get enough of that. Today is just fun.”

At the Girl Scouts of the Inland Northwest booth, kids were blowing huge bubbles after dipping their rings into a purple kiddie pool full of soapy water.

“People want to know when you can get into the Girl Scouts,” said Scout leader Elvira Albers. The answer: “You can start in kindergarten.”

And of course there are questions about how to get hold of Girl Scout cookies.

“I have to tell them cookie season is over for this year,” said Albers, laughing. “But if they join us, they can be ready for the next season from February to April.”

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