Family Day fun in Tillsonburg

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Organizers of Tillsonburg's annual Family Day at the Tillsonburg Community Centre ramped up plans for 2014, and more activities meant more people.

"This is the first year we expanded it to this degree," said lead team member Sarabeth Strathdee, who along with Brent Shepherd, Rick Cox, a half-dozen event organizers, and 40-plus additional volunteers helped make it happen.

"Our goal was to have 1,000-1,500 people and I think we're not going to have a problem reaching that this year," said Strathdee.

A full slate of Family Day swim and skating activities were offered at the Community Centre in 2009 following a successful inaugural Family Day scavenger hunt at Annandale National Historic Site in 2008.

Community sponsors were added at the over the years, and last year a pancake breakfast was introduced.

"This year the carnival is new. We added two new swims, the crafts, the pizza lunch, the OPP slapshot, the chuck-a-puck, the longer skate time – this year it's all day – the video games, and the reptile show."

Hundreds of children made crafts in the Marwood Lounge and nearly 500 people were wowed by Little Ray's Reptile Zoo show.

Last year people were turned away from swimming in the Kinsmen pool, but with three time slots this year they could reserve space, and more than 200 families took advantage of online reservations.

The crown jewel Monday, based on participation, had to be the carnival in the Lions Auditorium, which included inflatables, games, face painting, with popcorn and cotton candy.

"It's great," Strathdee. "There are always ways to improve, but close to 500 people in the first hour it was open – it was pretty successful. Kids are in there bouncing around and having fun.

"We're trying to move them along as much as possible – we appreciate when people are patient and understanding of that. We try to get the people through so everybody has a chance. They can play games and ride stuff as much as they want, and they get ballots for every game they play for a draw (with prizes). The prizes are all donated by local businesses."

Sonbeam Day Care set up a play station in the Lions Auditorium for young children.

"Often times there isn't things for the really little ones to do while everyone else is playing games and on inflatables. We wanted something for all ages of the family."

Strathdee said 4-5 families volunteered throughout the day as their 'Family Day' activity.

"A nice idea," she said with a smile.



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