Families wring last bit of fun out of season

Just 15 minutes into the Seymour Parks and Recreation Department’s annual End of Summer Escape, more than 100 people filled Shields Park.

Some children were running through an inflatable obstacle course. Others were going down one of two inflatable slides. Some were trying out an inflatable basketball game. Several of them were jumping around in the bouncy houses.

They also registered to win backpacks full of school supplies, and they could cool down with a freezer pop during the two-hour event Thursday or take a dip at Shields Park Pool in the afternoon.

The best part of it all? Everything was free.

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“It’s starting off very well,” Bob Tabeling, new director of the Seymour Parks and Recreation Department, said while handing out freezer pops.

“You can see it’s well-attended, and it’s a fun day for the kids to get a couple of hours out here to enjoy the jumps and then the different bouncy houses that we’ve got,” he said. “Then after that, they get some free admission into the pool this afternoon, so they kind of make a day of it and have some nice family time together.”

With the pool closing Monday and Seymour students starting school Wednesday, Tabeling said the End of Summer Escape was a good way to have fun outside in the park and pool.

“We want to try to get people out here no matter what the event is,” he said. “Just come and enjoy the parks. That’s really the ultimate goal, and this kind of is an avenue to draw them out here and see what’s going on. If they haven’t been here before, it gives them an opportunity to come to the park and just have a good time.”

Josiah Bingham, 9, and Charlie Ray, 10, both of Seymour, said they have been to the event before and decided to check it out again.

“What brought me out to it is the bouncy houses. You can jump in them and everything,” said Josiah, a third-grader at Margaret R. Brown Elementary School.

He said he wasn’t too worried about using all of his energy Thursday as the first day of school approaches.

“I guess you could just go to sleep early,” he said.

Josiah said he has been to the city pool several times this summer, while Charlie has enjoyed riding his bicycle and doing tricks at the skate park.

As far as going back to school, Charlie said he’s excited about math class.

“But I don’t like the rest of it,” the Seymour-Redding Elementary School fifth-grader said, smiling.

Josiah isn’t too excited about the start of a new school year, either.

“Because I’m not very much of a school person,” he said. “The only two things I like are gym and recess.”

For Mahala Fleetwood, 9, of Freetown, her summer break is over and she’s back to studying because she’s homeschooled.

During the summer, she said she attended church camps and went to Oklahoma with her family.

She took time away from her studies Thursday to enjoy the End of Summer Escape.

“I like all of it,” Mahala said of what the event offers.

Samantha York, 8, of Seymour went to the End of Summer Escape with her friends, Mackenzie Bryson, 8, and Ashley Dean, 9, and her mother, Tiffany York, all of Seymour.

Samantha’s summer consisted of playing on her tablet computer and playing outside. Her family also took a day trip through Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Virginia and visited water parks and historical sites.

While she didn’t think the summer was long enough, Samantha mentioned two things she’s excited about with school.

“Learning and reading,” the Emerson Elementary School student said.

Ashley said she went to Florida for the first time during summer break.

Now that the first day of school is approaching, she also said she likes reading, particularly the Percy Jackson series.

But her favorite part of school?

“Lunch,” said Ashley, who attends Cortland Elementary School.

Mackenzie said she’s excited about math at her school, Seymour-Redding Elementary.

“I like it because it challenges me,” she said.

Tiffany York said the End of Summer Escape is a good time to get out of the house and let the kids have fun. This summer, she has six kids at her house — three hers and three she babysits.

“They absolutely love it,” she said. “They get to see all of their friends here before school starts, and so it’s kind of like a reintroduction again right before school.”

She didn’t mind the kids getting all of her energy out in the bouncy houses and other inflatables.

“As much energy out as you can get,” she said, smiling. “That is fine so we can get back on a sleep schedule. They’ve been up until 11 or 12, so we need to get them back to going to bed at 8 and 9.”