ELIZABETHTOWN — A dip in the mercury this weekend may have kept boaters off the lake, but it didn’t stop plenty of people from turning out to learn a thing or two about town personnel.
On Saturday, the Elizabethtown Police Department and Elizabethtown Fire Department teamed up for the 11th annual Kids Appreciation Day, held behind Elizabethtown’s Municipal Building from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.. Temperatures at the beginning were in the upper 50s with cloudy skies and some mist, but before the event was over, the clouds have given way to the sun, and coats worn by children at the start were disposed of on the ground or in the arms of caregivers.
“The mist hurt us a little early on and may have kept some people away, but we still have a good turnout,” commented Elizabethtown Police Lt. Dwayne Cheshire.
Hundreds of children of all ages, and their parents, grandparents, and friends, as well as fire personnel, police officers, and their families enjoyed the day’s events. Included in the lineup were a K-9 demonstration by Chris Rice of the Elizabethtown Police Department, a skateboarding demonstration by Fayetteville’s DaVille Skate Shop, as well as face painting. Six ponies gave children rides around the lawn, and inflatable bounce houses and slides entertained children.
Six bicycles with helmets were given away, and a DJ played music and made announcements about upcoming events in town that might be of interest to attendees. BB&T hosted a magnetic fishing game and gave away prizes, and there was an abundance of food to enjoy. Snow cones, hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, chips, and soda were just a few of the offerings.
Fabric attached to a crane on a truck provided a 30-foot swing for kids, and later in the day, a home-run derby and free-throw competition took place, with trophies being awarded to the winners of each. Multiple fire trucks were on hand for kids to explore.
While all the activities were taking place, police and fire personnel interacted with guests, which Cheshire said was the purpose of the event.
“We just want people to know the police department is here to help,” he commented.
The effort wasn’t lost on at least one woman. Marquita Melvin brought her children to the event “to give them something positive to do.”
“In Winston-Salem recently, there was this black girl who got pulled over because her registration was expired,” said Melvin, who is black herself. “The officer asked her for her license, and she didn’t have it. He explained to her that she needed to get out of the car, and she started making a big deal. Somebody videoed him with his knee on her back, but what they didn’t show was what she did to get to that point. That’s the kind of thing that gives people the wrong idea about the police.
“I’ve lived in Bladen County 32 years, and I’ve never had any problem with the officers here,” she continued. “Police officers get a bad rap, but you don’t have to worry about them if you don’t do anything wrong. That’s why I bring my kids out here — so they can see what police officers are really like.”
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.