Fun Family Day in Tillsonburg

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This is what Family Day is all about.

Organizers tweaked Monday's Family Day activities at the Tillsonburg Community Centre, but they managed to stay within their 'guideposts.' They kept it fun, they kept it affordable, and local.

"It's been another successful year and we had some great sponsors," said Brent Shepherd, one of three TCC Family Day organizing committee members with Sarabeth Strathdee and Rick Cox, supported by their 'zone leaders' and a large team of community volunteers.

"We see the smiling faces and the laughing," said Shepherd. "Is it local? Yep. Is it affordable? Absolutely. The sponsors, the volunteers, donations of product, all of that helped make it affordable. Those are our guideposts for success."

They are also guideposts for the 2016 Family Day.

"Sponsors for next year and volunteers. That's how this entire day really works. We''re looking for those people that say, 'Hey, I want to get involved and I want to be a coordinator.' So we're interested in volunteers.

"And more sponsors. We had more sponsors step up, and sponsors from last year stepped up in a bigger way this year. It allowed us to do some of the 'extra' things, like the entertainment."

One of the changes to their second full-day Family Day celebration included the introduction of Mad Science – a Fire and Ice Show of scientific experiments, a new toddler lounge, and adding the Colin Campbell Community Arena for a series of 'Try It' sports like broomball and curling.

And the result

"It was great," said Strathdee, who liked how the events were spread across the Community Centre, preventing any single area from becoming overcrowded.

"The Toddler Lounge, in the Marwood Lounge, has been well-attended," Shepherd noted. "Sonbeam Daycare provided interactive toys and activities for the children and we're guiding those activities. I was very pleased with how that was received.

"Adding the second rink, and the other sports, was a neat addition. Having extra entertainment time, putting it in different spaces, it spread out the volume across the complex. One area wasn't overwhelmed for a period of time. We found it was balanced out a bit more this year.

"For us, we didn't want to have one area jammed so full that no one can move. That's not the fun. The point is, did we provide Tillsonburg and local area with a local event that rivals any other large city in terms of its activities and its engagement."

Also new this year, RBC Olympian Mark Oldershaw was a popular visitor with his 2012 Summer Games bronze medal. A third generation Olympian, Oldershaw answered questions about his canoe/kayaking sport and the Olympics, and posed for photos with Family Day visitors. See rbc.com/olympians for more information on the RBC-sponsored program.

Two of the most popular annual events – free skating in the Kinsmen Memorial Arena and free swimming in the Kinsmen Pool, returned in a big way. Skating time was extended and they had three separate swims.

"Skating is very popular," Shepherd nodded.

McDonald's sponsored the hotcake breakfast ($5 per family), cooked and served by volunteers, and Gino's Pizza supplied 100-plus discounted pizza for lunch.

ALL INDOORS

With outdoor temperatures plummeting to -20 C, Shepherd said keeping Family Day indoors was appreciated.

"If we were to do outdoor activities, with the really, really cold weather we had today, that would have made it quite challenging."

Having said that, he knows there is room for expansion outdoors – when they are ready.

"Last was really the first year we pushed it out 'large.' We wanted to make sure that what we were doing, we were doing well. With any large event, the larger you grow... everything has to grow with it. Sometimes you grow too quick for the support network."

chris.abbott@sunmedia.ca

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