Children's Fair is a time to play for kids

for parents, a time to learn

March 24, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

With eyes wide, the children filling Bucklin Park in El Centro on Saturday looked skyward at the county firefighter standing on a ladder high above.

For a moment the children were silent in anticipation.

Then, with a turn of a nozzle, a spray of cold water flew over the children, quickly dousing the kids on a hot March day.

The screams of youngsters echoed throughout the park on a day that was all about children as the Children and Parents Council held its 22nd annual Children's Fair.

"Stay out of the mud," some parents called, but such orders were drowned out by screams of children, who clearly were enjoying the day meant to both honor kids and expose resources to allow people to be better parents.


In the end many parents opted to join their children under the spray of the fire hose.

Organizers of the fair said there were more booths and more events than ever this year. They added there looked to be more people as residents from throughout the Valley took part.

"The goal is community awareness," said Yvette Garcia, site supervisor for the Children and Parents Council, formerly known as the Child Abuse Prevention Council.

"This is a time for children to come and play and parents to come and learn about resources available to them," Garcia added.

Garcia said as much fun as the Children's Fair is, there are some serious issues her agency and other groups in the Imperial Valley deal with in helping parents and youths.

She the CAP offers parenting classes and seminars known as "Roads to Wisdom" to help parents and children deal with issues.

The seminars have dealt with such issues as teen depression. In April the CAP is going to stage a seminar focusing on youth violence in the wake of recent school shootings in east San Diego County.

"It's a big concern for us," Garcia said. "It is hitting closer and closer to home."

A specific day and time for the seminar will be announced later, Garcia said.

Those taking part in the fair Saturday said the message of the event is simple — it's all about children.

"It's about respecting children; it's about smiles for children," said Binki the Clown — otherwise known as Lenny Fabian — who was busy entertaining a group of children.

Parents said they enjoy bringing their children to the event, which features food, music, petting zoos, camel rides, arts and crafts and many other programs for young people.

"We just come for the fun," said Kate Mount of Imperial, who was with her husband, Jim, and their children, Michelle, 8, and Danny, 8 months. "We wouldn't miss it."

Jose Panuco of Calexico was at the event with his sons, Antonio, 7, and Andre, 2.

"I just bring the kids and have a good time," Panuco said, adding, "It's a nice time for the family."

Antonio, who was playing with a colorful foam snake his father had bought for him, said, "I like the snake."

When asked about his favorite part of the fair, Antonio answered, "I want to go to the Dino gym."

Most children at the fair turned their attention from whatever it was they were doing to the spray of water unleashed over the park.

Cynthia Redondo, 8, of Seeley said the water was the best part, "Because I get to get wet."

She added, "I got to get my dad wet, but parents never want to get wet."

Jorge De La Torre Jr., 5, of Calexico was happy just walking around the park with his ice cream and his parents, Jorge and Guadalupe De La Torre.

"I like the balloons and the ice cream," he said.

Fair organizers said they like seeing so many families enjoy the event.

They said anyone with any questions or in need of help in dealing with children or parenting issues can contact the CAP Council at 353-8300.

The CAP office is at 563 W. Main St. in El Centro. There will be an open house at the office from 3 to 7 p.m. April 18. The public is invited.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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