MARIETTA - More than 1,200 people packed into the Marietta Aquatic Center for the 2012 Marietta Policeman's Pool Party Wednesday morning. The event is sponsored annually by the Fraternal Order of Police Pioneer City Lodge 12.
It turned out to be a good day for 5-year-old Madalynn Hinton of Marietta, who was among the winners of 28 bicycles given away at this year's pool party.
"I'm going to ride it," Madalynn said after being fitted with a bicycle helmet, courtesy of the Marietta City Health Department.
Photo by Sam Shawver
Jacob Stevens, 10, of Marietta wheels away the new bike he won during the annual Policeman’s Pool Party at the Marietta Aquatic Center Wednesday morning.
Jonni Tucker, registered nurse and Safe Kids Coalition coordinator with the health department, said about 30 helmets were distributed Wednesday.
Madalynn's mother, Amanda Hinton, said this was her daughter's first year to attend the pool party.
"We love it. It's a good time for the kids to get to know the local policemen in a different way," she said. "I think (Madalynn) was a little scared of the officers at first, but then they let her pet the K-9 dog and she loved that."
Marietta Police Capt. Jeff Waite said fostering good relations between officers and the public is the idea behind the event.
"The FOP lodge has been doing this since the 1930s to provide positive interaction between police officers and members of the community," he said. "And we want kids to feel comfortable around our officers."
Waite said children can develop a negative image of police officers from watching television or even from their parents.
"Parents will sometimes try to get children to behave by saying they're going to call the police and they'll put you in jail," Waite said. "We want kids to know we're not taking them to jail; we're just here to help them."
Eleven-year-old Austin Amash, a student at Phillips Elementary School, won a sportsman's kit during the pool party.
"It's something I can play with outdoors," he said, noting that this was his second year at the event.
"I'm happy they have it," Amash said. "And I think it's really good that so many people get together. I've met some friends I haven't seen since school was out."
Will Heft, 11, of Vincent, was invited to the party by a friend.
"It's really fun," he said. "I won a game, but my favorite part are the water slides. I probably went down five or six times."
A lot of toys and outdoor sports equipment were given out during the pool party, in addition to the bicycles, according to Detective Troy Hawkins, president of FOP Pioneer City Lodge 12.
"We tried to give away things that would encourage kids to get outdoors. There were even a couple of trampolines," he said.
Hawkins said the door prizes were purchased by the FOP, and some were donated from area businesses or individuals. Support for the event comes through contributions to the FOP from the community and from fundraisers.
"This began as an annual policeman's picnic in 1936," he said. "Back then they gave away a couple of bikes and some silver dollars. They used to bus the kids to the Masonic Park in Devola every year."
This is the fourth year for the pool party. Prior to that the FOP held yearly picnics at the Washington County Fairgrounds.
"We moved it to the aquatic center mainly due to the heat this time of year at the fairgrounds," Hawkins said. "Some people were getting sick because it was too hot, so we brought it here."
He said the FOP had 600 tickets to hand out for Wednesday's party, and children's parents were invited to attend.
"They bring their families along," Hawkins said. "So I would estimate we had a total of between 1,200 and 1,500 people here today."