A series of child friendly activities combined with perfect weather drew a big crowd to The Pines mall Saturday for the annual Arkansas Children’s Week Family Play Day.
“Parents can make memories with their kids and look back on this day as a time they spent having fun together,” said Marilyn Bailey, who assisted event coordinator Elaine Davis in setting up the day of activities.
The Delta Early Childhood Coalition sponsored the event, which Davis said was in “its seventh or eighth year.”
“The Pines mall has been great,” Davis said. “For the last two years they have given us the space for free and they’ve told us to come back as often as we want to.”
Previously, the group rented space at the mall, using the former Stage or Old Navy locations.
This year’s theme was “Create and Explore: Art, Music and More” and was aimed at children from kindergarten to sixth grade with a series of fun activities which were actually educational in nature.
Included were things like making jewelry, moving like barnyard animals while wearing headgear, guessing which sea shells had a marble under them, choosing from a variety of seeds to plant and eat vegetables later, and making rainbows using different objects.
Five-year-old Lyric Scales said she was “having fun,” and said she was going to plant a flower she had been given at one of the activities “in her garden.”
Her mother, Quawna Scales, while watching Lyric and her brother, DeAnthony, 6, said the activities would help her kids improve their English and math scales, and if they had not gone to the mall, “would probably be in the park.”
Each child received a passport listing all of the activities that were going on, and by getting that passport stamped at each activity, would receive a prize.
“We’ve had lots of door prizes donated and there is a treasure chest where every child who gets their passport stamped can pick a prize,” Davis said. “No child is going to leave here empty handed.”
Outside the mall, the Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Department set up two fire trucks and their smoke house for children and adults to learn what to do in the event of a fire.
Lt. Bruce Bailey said the smoke house teaches children “how to get out of a room if it is on fire.”
“It’s just like when kids play baseball, they have to practice, and with the smoke house, they can practice what to do if their is a fire,” Bailey said. “The only difference between this and practicing for a sport like baseball is that this can be a life or death event.”
Police Sgt. Lynn Wright, in his third year of participating in the event, said he was there to “answer crime related questions,” and to provide information about drugs and safety for children and adults.”
“This is a positive thing for Pine Bluff,” Davis said. “With the economic conditions the way they are right now, this shows that there are a lot of things for people to do that are fun, and it’s fun for me to be involved.”
Organizers said the event drew about 1,000 children and adults and they expected a similar turnout this year.