Affordable, local and fun family events: what’s not to like?
“No-brainer,” agreed Brent Shepherd, one of three Tillsonburg’s Family Day lead team members. “A no-brainer, right?”
The concept is simple enough, celebrate Canada’s nod to a national family day Monday, February 17, with an appropriate local interpretation.
Two years ago, the Bethel Pentecostal Church in Tillsonburg Shepherd is a pastor of, sponsored a free Family Day skate. Last year, with support from Jeff VanRybroeck, Carrie Smith and Andrea Vandevyvere, a pancake breakfast and free swim were added. In conjunction with the effort, the church conducted a survey seeking answers to what the broader community would like to experience as a celebration of things familial.
“Fun, affordable and local,” were three consistent responses, said Shepherd. “And we wanted to provide that.”
That core understanding is being maintained as the church stepped back for year three, a broader community-based effort under the shared Tillsonburg’s Family Day organizational umbrella. Shepherd has remained part of the effort as a resident of Tillsonburg rather than a pastor of a specific church, along with lead team members Rick Cox and Sarabeth Strathdee; Zone (individual event) coordinators Erin Getty, Lorraine MacDonald, Juley VanDaalen, Brenda Harris and Chris Holdaway; and an additional 40-plus event volunteers including members of the Tillsonburg Fire Service and the Kinsmen Club.
“We come from different angles, but together with the same purpose,” said Shepherd.
Tillsonburg’s Family Day is being supported financially by local businesses and individuals, along with a contribution approved by the Town of Tillsonburg’s Cultural Advisory Committee. In the main, component events are being offered free of charge, or as in the pancake breakfast, at a nominal ($5 per family) charge.
“We are just looking at covering the costs,” said Shepherd.
Tillsonburg’s Family Day kicks off with the aforementioned breakfast, from 8-10 a.m. inside the Lion’s Den. Lunch will also be available in the Lion’s Den, Domino’s Pizza supplied at cost, from 11a.m. to 1 p.m. The ‘den’ will also be home to Little Ray’s Reptile Show from 2:30-3:30 p.m.
“We’re very excited about that,” said Shepherd.
The complex’s recreational facilities will be available for much of the day. Free skating will be provided inside the Kinsmen/Memorial Arena from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and three separate free swims inside the pool from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.; 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.; and 1-2:30 p.m.
Last year, the swims proved so popular some hopefuls were left, literally high and dry, by limitations on the maximum numbers the pool is able to accommodate. In order to avoid disappointment this year, Shepherd is recommending families take advantage of a pre-registration option via the event’s website: www.tillsonburgfamilyday.ca.
“They can pre-register their family in one of those three time slots.”
A craft corner will be established inside the Marwood Lounge from 10 a.m. to noon, and again from 1-2 p.m. The Tillsonburg Family Day carnival is also expected to be a popular crowd pleaser, inside the Lion’s Auditorium from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring inflatables, cotton candy, popcorn, balloon animals and face painting.
“There will also be some other carnival games and prizes,” said Shepherd.
Most of the day’s events target younger children, but a big-screen video game tournament (Rock Band, NHL 3-on-3, Smash Bros. and Mariokart) scheduled for the afternoon in the complex’s squash courts is geared towards the junior high/teenaged crowd.
Volunteer opportunities still exist, Shepherd added, particularly for the carnival.
“It would be an opportunity for high school students to get their volunteer hours.”
Those seeking more information are invited to visit the website, said Shepherd, and more importantly, all are invited out to share in a day which has come together as a result of the efforts of a supportive community celebrating a day, that as advertised, is all about celebrating its families.
“That’s what community is,” he concluded. “I think community works very well when it acts like a caring family, these are all people who care about Tillsonburg coming together to do this.”