Fun in the sun: Event keeps summer going for students


A summer of seemingly endless fun for most Seymour students will come to an abrupt end Wednesday.

Some of those youth were able to have some last-minute fun Thursday thanks to the city parks and recreation department, Fraternal Order of Police and Jackson County United Way.

The End of Summer Escape, first conducted in early August 2004, featured lots of activities, including an obstacle course, a big slide, a tot slide and three bounce houses. There also was a free afternoon session at the pool for those in attendance, and SMX Staffing sponsored a drawing for backpacks filled with school supplies

Gavin Phillips, who attended with his father, Tracey, and 9-year-old sister, Gabrielle, said he liked the obstacle course.

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“It was pretty fun,” the 16-year-old Seymour High School student said. “I like coming here, getting to go to the pool for free and the free food.”

Gabrielle, who will be returning to Seymour-Redding Elementary School on Wednesday, also said she liked going to the pool. Her father said while she wouldn’t admit it, his daughter also liked the bounce houses.

The Phillipses also attended last year’s End of Summer Escape.

“It’s a pretty good time,” Tracey said as Wild Cherry’s “Play that Funky Music” was played by a disc jockey with Seymour radio station 92.7 Nash Icon.

Matt Martin of Seymour also brought his 8-year-old son, Jacob, and 5-year-old son, Isaac, to the event.

“It’s just a fun activity to do here at the end of summer with the two boys,” Matt said. “They’re getting ready to go back to school, and we thought we would have one more go at the parks and have fun and enjoy all the activities.”

He said Thursday was the third time the family had attended the event, and the boys always look forward to it.

“They always ask about it,” he said.

Jacob, who is a second-grader at Emerson Elementary School, said the obstacle course was his favorite activity, and he planned to go swimming at the pool. Isaac will be entering preschool this year.

Bob Tabeling, the parks and recreation director, said a partnership with Jackson County United Way led to some new activities for this year’s event.

“They brought in some different groups,” Tabeling said. “The FOP is here doing some hot dogs. We’re trying to do the block party thing with the United Way.”

He said the city provides the bounce houses and other activities as a way to provide local students with some fun before they head back to school.

“We always get several hundred kids that come out and enjoy the day with us,” Tabeling said. “It’s closing up the summer.”

Jackson County United Way offered a rock painting activity, and the city provided Popsicles and water.

Several of the lifeguards from the pool helped out along with some city employees and volunteers.

Tonja Couch, executive director of Jackson County United Way, said partnering with the city is just another way to help the organization’s efforts to build community through neighborhood block parties.

“We went out and invited all the neighbors (around the park) to come out,” Couch said. “We went door-to-door.”

Seymour Detective Sgt. C.J. Foster and Detective Sgt. Greg O’Brien with Donald M. Winn Lodge 708 of the Fraternal Order of Police showed up and cooked hot dogs throughout the morning, and that really helped out, she said.

“We’re really a small staff, so to have extra people grilling is really important,” Couch said.

All of the United Way agencies were invited to set up shop and promote the services they offer, and several did, including the American Red Cross and Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Food Pantry.

“Anthem (Blue Cross Blue Shield) is our huge sponsor, so that’s why they are here,” she said of the firm that helped pick up the tab for the hot dogs.

Jackson County United Way continues to work with other organizations and people to promote the idea of block parties in communities throughout the county, Couch said.

That’s an idea that stems from a series of community conversations over the past couple of years, she said.

Those meetings showed people want to live in a community that is healthy and vibrant with places to go and things to do, Couch said.

“We want to be known as a community that works together, that takes care of neighbors and generations,” she said.

Too often, people don’t know their neighbors, Couch said.

“So we have to start building neighborhood connections,” she said.

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