Suffolk families and children gather to “Dance” with the characters

Published 9:00 am Sunday, March 31, 2024

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Suffolk, Virginia —From Cinderella to Spider-Man, Suffolk families and children got a chance to meet some of their favorite cartoon and superhero icons at the 3rd annual Dancing with the Characters, held on Saturday, March 9, at 134 S. 6th St. Hosted by Christopher and Michelle Hearn of Characters4kidz, the free event saw a giveaway of over 200 toys and over 340 in attendance. Appearances from Suffolk’s biggest leaders, including Mayor Michael D. Duman and Vice Mayor Lue R. Ward, were also a part of the event.

Dancing with the Characters Co-Owner Christopher Hearn discussed the event’s origins, reflecting on his desire to create a fun event where children can meet their favorite cartoon and superhero characters.

“We decided to invite city leaders to have parents and kids to meet them as well. I know there are events where kids can see their favorite character or superhero. However, the admission price is very expensive [and] with the help of so many people, we felt that we could host the event at no cost,” Hearn said.

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Hearn says that the event was another success with the help of friends and family as well as local businesses, sororities and churches.

“Mayor Mike Duman, Randy Carter, Clerk of Circuit Court and former Delegate Clinton Jenkins have been a great help all three years. This year, the Suffolk school board and Suffolk Parks and Recreation partnered with us to make this year’s event even greater. The Suffolk Police Department and Suffolk Sheriff’s office volunteer officers as well,” Hearn said. “We could not make this happen without the love and support of so many people.”

Owning a majority of the costumes, Hearn says that appearances from the Easter Bunny were a big hit with partners such as Lawanda, Tony & Angie Smith of Harlem-World and Chris Mayes of Party Time Entertainment helping with donations and making things happen. For next year, Hearn says they plan to do registration and stay at the East Suffolk Recreation Gymnasium due to being close to Downtown Suffolk neighborhoods.

“Michelle and I start in November requesting donations and volunteers,” Hearn said. “We go toy shopping almost every week for three months.”

Hearn likewise talked about the main reason being all the work he does for the event.

“The kids’ smiles are priceless to see, especially when we do the introduction of the characters,” Hearn said. “We also provide free food and toys to every kid as well as [a] 360 booth. Interim Police Chief Buie told me in his career with the city this is the ‘best free event for kids’ he has ever attended. That made me feel proud.”