By Mike Smith
The Duncan Banner
Hundreds of kids romped through Fuqua Park on Saturday, playing games, eating treats and loading up on free supplies heading into the upcoming school year.
Dozens of businesses, churches, clubs and organizations pitched in to put on the ninth annual Fiesta in Fuqua, an event that gives families and their kids a head start on school.
Hundreds of bags of free school supplies — glue, notebooks, pencils and pens and other items appropriate for each grade level — were handed out to kids who took part in at least 10 of more than 30 games and activities available.
A Blue Cross Blue Shield Caring van was on hand where children could get needed immunizations, eye exams were provided by Duncan Family Eye Care and weight checks were done by the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing.
There were more than 70 other sponsors this year, many of them represented at booths throughout the park. Country music blared from the park gazebo, where folks could load up on popcorn from an old-fashioned machine.
Kiddieland was open with free rides throughout the morning, and shortly before starting time at 8:30 a.m., the park was packed.
“They come early because they know the school supplies are limited to the first thousand and they want to come while it’s cool,” said Daisy Lawler, one of the event organizers.
Randy Southerland, pastor at New Hope Baptist Church West in Duncan, smiled when asked how many of the kids were actually looking forward to the end of summer vacation and the start of school.
“Probably one in a thousand,” he said, laughing.
“But this is an awesome project for the city and the kids and the school system,” he said. “The wonderful thing about it is the cooperative spirit, working together for the good of the community. That is the beauty and the value of it.”
Many of the groups and organizations have taken part for several years, but this is the first year the Duncan Area Literacy Council got directly involved.
“I wanted to target some of the parents of the children coming through the park today to let them know that if someone is in need of a little help with their literacy skills or English as a second language, we can work with them and get them help,” said Nancy Litsch, director of the Council.