Kids Day Picnic

PARKERSBURG – The Wood County Deputy Sheriff’s Association’s Kids Day Picnic at City Park Friday had inflatables, games, free food, face-painting and a bicycle giveaway, but none of those activities were why Parkersburg resident Caleb McCune considered it an “awesome” event.

To McCune, 9, it was all about the sheriff’s department’s S.W.A.T. vehicle.

“They’re letting kids in it,” he said. “It’s like you’re a part of the S.W.A.T. team.”

The truck was a new addition to the picnic, which has been held for more than 20 years. Association President and sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Bussey said it’s an opportunity to give back to the community, while providing services like Kids Print ID cards and helping children get comfortable with law enforcement officials.

Friday’s attendance was estimated to be more than 800 children, Bussey said.

“This is probably one of the biggest turnouts we’ve had in quite some time,” he said.

Thunder, lightning and heavy rain disrupted the activities for a little while.

“We just waited it out, and between the downpours (we) were able to get everything handed out,” Bussey said.

That included 32 bicycles, one of which was won by Belleville resident Jeffrey Waldron, 8, in a case of lightning striking twice. Waldron also won a smaller bike at the same event four years ago.

“It’s pretty cool,” Jeffrey said as he tried out his prize in the park.

In a way, his older brother Jacob was a winner too, said the boys’ “papaw,” Chris Waldron.

“He (Jeffrey) just got a new bike for his birthday, so he’s going to give that one to his brother,” Chris Waldron said.

Also a winner was 23-month-old Raychel Wright of Belleville, although her mother Cortney noted she seemed more impressed with the pink, flowered helmet that came with it than the bike itself.

“She’s going to probably wear it around all day,” Cortney Wright said.

The association also holds a bicycle giveaway around Christmastime.

Wood County Chief Deputy Shawn Graham pointed out that the money for this year’s picnic was raised through events like a golf tournament and bingo, not through telemarketing, as the group had done in years past. Graham said a portion of the money raised that way went to the telemarketing company and association members realized residents would probably rather not get such calls.

“I’m really proud of the group for going away from that,” he said. “They’ve found other ways to raise money to benefit the public with events like this.”

People who want to donate to the organization can contact Graham or Bussey or mail contributions marked for the association to the sheriff’s department. One hundred percent of such donations will go to the association, Graham said.