Families enjoy fall festival

Published 8:12 pm Saturday, September 30, 2017

The East Suffolk Recreation Center on South 6th Street held an event Saturday to help parents looking for affordable weekend activities for their children.

Suffolk Parks and Recreation staff organized the center’s first Fall Family Festival on Saturday. Dozens of parents and children came throughout the day to enjoy snacks and fun at no cost.

“It gives the kids the opportunity to do things outside of just sitting in the house on a Saturday, and it gives the parents the opportunity to see what we have to offer,” said recreation leader Itaujua Richardson.

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Visitors enjoyed hot dogs, popcorn, and Capri Sun and enjoyed playing bingo. They got raffle tickets and fitness demos, including Zumba.

There was bowling, volleyball, a few rounds of Catch Me If You Can and a pair of bounce houses, which were natural favorites for many children.

“They came in and just ran straight to them,” Richardson said.

Lights in the gym were shut off at 1 p.m. for glow-in-the-dark games illuminated by black lights and glow stick apparel worn by children and adults alike.

“Kids get to be creative while they’re in the black light,” said Octavia Morgan, fitness specialist and one of the event organizers. “It’s just more interesting and fun when it’s glowing.”

Morgan said this was simply another staff effort to bring families in the community together. Children often come to the center for sports, classes and other fun events.

Recreation specialist Nakiesha Bridgers used the Kids Pajama and Movie Party on Friday as an example, in which children enjoyed a Smurf-themed evening filled with blue and white balloons, movies, and snacks, plus a comfy dress code.

“They did a lot of screaming, yelling, playing and just wore themselves out,” Bridgers said.

Parents on Saturday praised the center for continuing to provide these kinds of opportunities.

“It’s wonderful for the city to have free events for small children,” said Suffolk resident Angie White. “It can get really expensive for families with more than one child.”

White and her husband Steven brought their children Charlotte, Caroline and Landon on Saturday. The three children could be found in the bounce houses for long stretches of persistent jumping.

“This community center is a great investment in this part of the city,” Steven said. “It’s a great service that the city provides to the community that’s free and gives people a chance to do something fun and healthy.”

Keith Sutherland and Amy Stewart brought their five children to the center. Sutherland described how much his children enjoy the sports programs at the center, and the other events held throughout the year.

“This is the best center I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said. “I’m very impressed by everything they do for the kids.”