Hundreds of families flocked to the 14th annual Kids Festival, a celebration of free activities, education and entertainment, at Jaycee Park Saturday.
Co-sponsored by the city of Cape Coral and organized by the Harney Point Kiwanis Club of Cape Coral, the festival has grown over the years to include dozens of vendors and live performers.
Harney Point Kiwanis President Scott Turner said early rain put a damper on early attendance, but as the skies cleared, cars began lining up along Beach Parkway, all vying for premium parking spots in Jaycee Park.
Turner said the fun, and education, were the focal points on Saturday.
“We want to give families the opportunity to spend time together and educate their kids,” Turner said. “They learn the basics in school but when we bring the health and safety aspects, it broadens that knowledge and they can use it their entire lives.”
It was a combination of free activities and education, with representatives from the Lee County Public Library System and the Cape Coral Fire Department, to name a few.
Meghan De Jesus and her daughter Lexie, 4, were enjoying the free pony rides. Meghan said her daughter really wanted to see the animals, which also included Alpacas.
Lexie was smiling and having fun while taking a pony ride.
“This is what we came for, the animals,” De Jesus added.
Emma and Jonah Rioux, ages 2 and 4, were busy building their own tool boxes with their dad Corey. They got to build the toolboxes and paint them for free, courtesy of Home Depot.
The home retail giant even provided orange aprons, like the associates wear in the stores, for the kids who were busy tinkering away.
“We’ve been checking out the different booths we’ve been having fun,” Corey Rioux said.
Wally Laumeyer was handing out flyers promoting the free kid’s fishing derby, another event sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Cape Coral.
The free kids fishing derby lets hundreds of youngsters fish at the Yacht Club Fishing pier and sends them home with a free rod and reel. Some kids even get the chance to win a free bike in a raffle.
“They ask me what it costs for their kids to fish and I tell them all they have to do is get there,” Laumeyer said. “They also can’t believe they get a free rod and reel.”
Turner estimated that 3,000 people took part in the event, which also featured live music, entertainment and a Halloween costume contest.
Turner said he was also proud of the many student volunteers. From elementary to high school, Turner said those students had the opportunity to learn some valuable lessons about being part of a community while lending a hand.
“I want them to walk away knowing the importance of volunteering and that they continue to volunteer,” Turner said. “We’ve got people who need help and the Kiwanis is one of many service organizations that live to help. I hope those students walk away with a sense of accomplishment and they continue volunteering throughout their lives.”