Police hosting Kids Day Out this Saturday
Organizers predict another successful year of free fun
August 24, 2011 | 08:00 AMBLOOMFIELD — Each summer, something's going on every week. But in the midst of all the parades, carnivals and pig and chicken roasts, the Town Police Department's annual Kids Day Out continues to draw more people. And it takes place in that weekend between two of the area's largest summer events — Lake Geneva's Venetian Fest and the Walworth County Fair.
How do they do it? Kathy Seeberg, a member of the event committee, offered her two cents.
"We pull people not just from Bloomfield," she said. "We pull from the entire county (because) there aren't many events where you can go and have good, clean fun and have it be free. But the kids are having fun. I think that's the main reason for the success."
On Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., a full schedule of activities take place in and around Bloomfield Town Hall, N1100 Town Hall Road. The Walworth County Sheriff's Department, the Bloomfield-Genoa City Fire and Rescue Department, Lake Geneva police and Flight For Life are expected to participate once again.
"It's Bloomfield's event, but we're trying to partner with all these emergency personnel so children and adults can try to interact with those who protect them," Seeberg said.
It's an event filled with entertainment and a chance to get to know the people behind the badges, but for one crucial reason — child identification kits. Once children work with department members to compile these tools for parents, food and games are free.
Seeberg said the kits are the main reason for having the event.
"If you're a parent and you're ever in a situation where your child's been abducted, these kits can be invaluable," she said.
But each year, the activities to supplement the opportunity to have police help parents create a kit for them to take home have drawn larger crowds. Seeberg said when Bloomfield police first began Kids Day Out as an annual event in 2003, they created about 300 kits. Last year, it was about 500.
"It's good for the children," she said. "It's important to have the ID kits done, and the other part of it, they will be interacting with the police officers so they will know they can go up to them at any time — if they have a problem or even if they just have a question."
Seeberg said she enjoys another aspect of Kids Day Out, one which you wouldn't expect to hear from someone who's married to a police officer on the Bloomfield department.
"I mean, how many times do you get the chance to throw a ball and dunk a police officer," she laughed.
On paper, the list of Kids Day Out activities looks the same as last year's. In addition to having a dunk tank with the town police chief and other officers ready for a dunking, there's the felony stop demonstration, the state Department of Natural Resources' hunting simulator, displays of police equipment and vehicles, including the "Beat the Heat" car.
But each year, there's a theme unifying all the activities. Seeberg said the committee, which begins planning Kids Day Out each February, discussed what issues are affecting the community.
"There's still a need to educate children about bullying," she said. "(It's) still happening. Children who are victims of it are usually afraid to report it."
This year, throughout the event, Kids Day Out volunteers will be reinforcing the motto, "Be a buddy, not a bully."
"All of the items we give kids in their goodie bags will be a constant reminder of that theme, reinforcing that maybe they shouldn't be bullying people," she said. "Maybe, instead, that will help them to consider being somebody's friend."
One of the major activities during Kids Day Out is the felony stop demonstration, in which the public can witness police chasing and arresting a suspect.
Seeberg said usually this demo relates to the theme of the event, but she's not sure. She said Police Chief Steve Cole usually keeps it a secret.
Seeberg said Cole also gives the committee each year a simple but important piece of instruction — do what was done last year, plus one thing that's new. She said this year the committee added a few games and obtained some higher-quality prizes, both for the games and the raffles.
And now, a word about sponsors
This was made possible thanks to another first for Kids Day Out — "major" sponsorship from area businesses such as Talmer Bank and Trust and PFI Inc., Seeberg said.
"We have some big donors this year, but Talmer and PFI were two of the biggest," she said. "But there are lots of smaller companies who give us raffle items or smaller donations."
Seeberg said it's all appreciated. She said the town doesn't budget for Kids Day Out, which costs about $8,000 to put together. That's why, when fundraising for the event kicks into full swing around July, they strive to cover the entire cost with donations, Seeberg said.
"Which we have done in the past," she said. "This year, we don't know. All the donations aren't in yet."
But it's an event which continues to flourish, despite a busy summer filled with community events throughout Walworth County. Kids Day Out also can be called a success because the people who volunteer do it for fun or civic pride. Seeberg said all Bloomfield police officers at the event "are there of their own free will."
"This wouldn't have happened without the support of the community," she said. "And each year, the attendance just grows and grows."