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BREAKING NEWS

Sunday proves a Funday for kids

MARIETTA – Walking a straight line became nearly impossible for 15-year-old Fiona Wright after the Williamstown teen put on a pair of “impairment glasses” during the ninth annual Sunday Funday at East Muskingum Park this weekend.

“It was very confusing – I couldn’t even tell where my feet were,” she said, adding that she just obtained her learner’s driving permit, and the mock field sobriety test definitely gets the message across about drinking and driving.

Ohio Highway Patrol Trooper Ryan Pinney said most people are surprised how difficult it becomes to follow the simplest commands when their vision is thrown out of whack by alcohol consumption.

“We hope the impairment glasses make a good impression so they won’t drink and get behind the wheel,” he said.

The impairment glasses experience was one of several family-friendly activities emphasizing health, safety and fun during Sunday Funday, according to Sheri Schwartz, executive director of the Washington County Chapter of the American Red Cross, who coordinates the annual event.

“This is our ninth annual Sunday Funday, and the event is growing every year,” she said. “We have a variety of organizations who participate, including the Marietta police and fire departments, Oak Grove Volunteer Fire Department, Ohio Highway Patrol and Washington County Sheriff’s deputies, the Marietta Family YMCA, Marietta Health and Wellness Center, WMOA Radio, as well as the local Red Cross.”

Schwartz noted for the first time this year The Ohio State University Buckeye Mobile Tour was part of Sunday Funday.

“The mobile tour is a way to bring the Buckeye brand of Ohio State into communities across our state,” explained Kyle Lavetsky, services coordinator with the Buckeye Mobile Tour.

The tour includes football pass and kick inflatables games in addition to wellness and exercise games for kids from United Healthcare that works in conjunction with the Buckeye tour.

“We bring lots of prizes and activities in addition to the inflatables,” Lavetsky added.

Schwartz said Sunday Funday provides a way for area families to meet and learn about various local organizations that provide health, wellness and public safety services – all in one place.

Pinney was among several uniformed officers, including members of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and Marietta City Police, who participated in Sunday’s event.

Two-year-old Jayci Spurr wanted to sit in Pinney’s cruiser, so the officer helped her into the driver’s seat.

Her mother, Dawn Spurr of Marietta, said she wants Jayci to be comfortable around police officers.

“I want her to be familiar with people who are in uniform so that, in case of an emergency, she wouldn’t be afraid to ask them for help,” she said. “I think that’s very important for every child.”

Pinney agreed.

“I really love working with kids,” he said. “And we want them to know that we’re not bad guys – we’re just doing our job and are here to help.”

On the other side of the park members of the Marietta city police and health departments were providing free identification booklets that contained children’s fingerprints, photos, height, weight and other pertinent information.

“We’ve had at least 100 children come through this year,” said Marietta officer Katie Warden as she inked up another child’s hand for fingerprinting.

“The identification booklets are something parents can keep on hand that provides valuable information in the event of an emergency,” she said.

Heather Felton, of New Matamoras, said she and a friend brought five kids to the Sunday Funday, and all five had ID booklets.

“I think this event is a good thing and a great learning experience that’s also fun for the kids and parents,” she said. “This is our first time here, but I think it’s great.”

Schwartz noted the Sunday Funday could not have happened without support from the Parkersburg and Marietta area Par Mar Stores who obtained a B.P. “Fueling Communities Grant” to help fund the event. She said Par Mar also provided volunteers to help out Sunday.

She said free food and drinks were available during the event. Schwartz added that plenty of pizza was also donated by Smitty’s Pizza in Marietta.