By Lynn Davis
Special to The Pilot
Spirits were high, as was the temperature on Saturday, for Brookings-Harbor's fourth annual Community Picnic.
Organizers estimated the event brought more than 600 people to Azalea Park to enjoy fun, food and each other's company.
The menu consisted of a bounty of old-fashioned hot dogs, cake, ice cream and soda-pop courtesy of Brookings Rotary Club, Delaney's Bakery, Ray's Food Place, Slugs 'n Stones 'n Ice Cream Cones and Pepsi. Ice was provided by both Price 'n Pride and Harbor Ice.
Entertainment was provided through way of games, contests, races and raffles.
Photo opportunities were everywhere, from little ones with ice cream dripping from their noses, to fireman carrying fallen half-pints over the finish line of a race in which they had to run outfitted in full fire uniforms that were bigger than they were.
The picnic, which gets bigger every year, is co-sponsored by Kiwanis and the city of Brookings.
"The event is designed to bring all of the public together for something that is fun and safe for everyone," said lead organizer Lorraine Kuhn. The city councilor and Kiwanis member said she is thrilled with this year's turnout and sees no reason not to do it again.
"We'll have it every year in September," she said.
Mary Trailor, president of the Rotary Club didn't have an exact count as to how many people attended the picnic, but based on the number of hot dogs eaten, estimates exceed the 600 mark.
"So far we have handed out over 600 hot dogs," Trailor said. "We thought 400 would be enough, but we ran out earlier and had to go get some more."
Kuhn attributes this year's increase in attendance, at least for the most part, to Mother Nature.
"The event is much larger because the weather is better," she said. Many factors contributed to make the day a success but, most important she believes, was the support of the community and the dedication of volunteers.
One special helper, Mayor Bob Hagbom, volunteered his time to serve picnickers hot dogs and ice cream. "He has been here all day," Kuhn said. She extended a big "Thank You" to emcee Kevin Bane from KURY Radio, as well and said, "We couldn't do it without him."
Bane, too, believed Mother Nature played a big part in the picnic's successful outcome.
"Good turnout, great weather!" he said. "It was obvious that people stayed for the whole time. The weather was very conducive to picnicking."
Bane spent a good portion of the afternoon reading off raffle numbers for close to 100 prizes. The system, he said, had been changed this year to no longer require signatures on the winning tickets, which made things much easier.
Included in the list of prizes were river tours provided by Rogue River Mailboats, gift certificates from Redwood Theater, Lucky 7 Casino, Wild River Pizza, All About You hair salon, S&K Dollar Store, stuffed animals provided by Geraghty Coin, and Umpqua Bank donated five $50 savings bonds.
Donations were not a problem this time around, which made planning the picnic much easier for organizers, Kuhn said. "Raffle prizes were not solicited this year, they came to us and asked what we needed." Food and beverage sponsors were as eager to help out as well.
A big hit with the crowd was a racing game and large screen TV, provided by the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 757 for the afternoon's entertainment. Kuhn said of the Veterans participation, "They are really involved with children in the community, it's great to see them doing it again."
Many other games and activities were available to participate in ranging from the Harbor Fire Department's uniform race, to basketball shoots, face painting, Frisbee and balloon tosses, paper airplanes and hula hoops courtesy of Kiwanis, Darrin Farmer of State Farm Insurance, Azalea Middle School's Leadership Class and Builder's Club, and Brookings-Harbor High School's Key Club.
Cool the Clown, whose visit was also made possible by Kiwanis, played with the children, performing tricks and juggling her way through the audience.
Brookings Police Department also participated in the day's festivities by providing "goody" bags to the children complete with crayons, stickers and coloring books, as well as handing out bike safety pamphlets and other useful information.
Donny Dotson of the Brookings Police Department, together with his police dog and partner, Robby, interacted with members of the community.
Robby, a German shepherd, has been a member of the force for nine months and specializes in drug enforcement. Dotson said his furry partner "definitely helps the relationship with the kids." He added, "It helps to break the ice and also opens the door for conversation with the kids about more serious topics, like drugs."
Children, can be intimidated with police because of previous associations that tie them to violent situations. The drama of their job that is illustrated on TV shows, for example, can sometimes lead to detrimental thinking in young people, learning that police are to be feared and avoided, instead of respected and admired, Dotson said.
Often parents, too, unwittingly add to the fear in their little ones of the police by saying things like, "Hurry up, put your seat belt on. There's a cop!" or That darn police officer gave me a ticket just because I was going 65 in a 25!" Opportunities that allow conversation and good encounters with police, such as the Community Picnic, Dotson reported, can be invaluable in the challenge to change perceptions.
Newcomers to Brookings, and owners of Acoustic Blends Coffeehouse, Brian and Trista Box, brought their family to the picnic for a day of funnin' and sunnin' and, even though they came late, they still had a great time.
"It's a lot of fun," Brian said, "especially for the kids." He added, "It was neat to interact with police and law enforcement."
For some, the picnic provided the opportunity to do a little sun-worshiping. Others enjoyed the afternoon at the park by reading a book or visiting with friends they hadn't seen in a while.
Tina Nattell said, while lounging with her daughter on the grass under their big umbrella, "I think it's really great. Kids really enjoy it. It's the only place you can go where the mayor will make you an ice cream cone."