Block Party welcomes in the new school year
by Maddy Houk | Patterson Irrigator
Aug 14, 2014 | 1008 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Back to school: The annual end-of-summer party gets more popular each year, with families lining up an hour early on Saturday morning.------Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
Back to school: The annual end-of-summer party gets more popular each year, with families lining up an hour early on Saturday morning.------Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
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Members of the Walnut Grove Balet Folclorico dance group prepare to perform on the circle during Saturday’s block party event.-----Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
Members of the Walnut Grove Balet Folclorico dance group prepare to perform on the circle during Saturday’s block party event.-----Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
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A youngster smiles for the camera as a Marc Klaas of Klaas Kids provides id’s for the kids. At lower left, a hula hoop contest was just one of the many fun activities that went on during the event.-----Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
A youngster smiles for the camera as a Marc Klaas of Klaas Kids provides id’s for the kids. At lower left, a hula hoop contest was just one of the many fun activities that went on during the event.-----Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
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<b>Keeping Tabs</b>: Marc Klaas of the KlaasKids Foundation fingerprints local youth. Below, attendees of the block party tour the Patterson Township Historical Society’s Center Building.-----Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
Keeping Tabs: Marc Klaas of the KlaasKids Foundation fingerprints local youth. Below, attendees of the block party tour the Patterson Township Historical Society’s Center Building.-----Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
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Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
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Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
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Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
Elias Funez/Patterson Irrigator
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Patterson’s third annual Back to School Block Party and Safety Fair welcomed more than 3,500 people to the downtown Circle and North and South parks from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. During the event, students came away with school supplies such as books, pencils and pens among other items with many donated by community businesses and individuals.

The party, hosted by the Patterson Joint Unified School District and the Patterson Recreation and Community Services Department had more than 30 booths featuring school staff, teachers and administrators, as well as local agencies and scholarship programs and the Patterson Fire Department. The Patterson Lions Club cooked up a lunch for the crowd to enjoy.

The day allowed students and parents to meet with principals and teachers and other staff in a fun environment. Families were lined up early according to Phil Alfano, superintendent of the PJUSD.

“It’s amazing,” Alfano said. “We had parents lining up at 8 a.m. The excitement is contagious. It’s going to be a great school year.”

Alfano added that 1,500 bags of school supplies were given out that day by 11 a.m.

City Councilwomen Debroah Novelli, who was on the Circle watching the proceedings, said she was emotional just seeing the sheer number of people participating in the event. Novelli was especially happy that the Klaas Kids Foundation, stationed in the North Park, was in town fingerprinting what in the end totaled 180 children.

The foundation came to town for the first time three years ago after Novelli met Marc Klaas when he helped distribute fliers after a local child, Juliani Cardenas, was taken from his grandmother’s arms in January 2011. Since its beginnings, more than 1,000 children have been fingerprinted.

Fun downtown for all

Novelli’s twin sons, Marcus and Lucas Wraa, both 17-year-old Patterson High School seniors said they attended the block party to have fun, learn abut safety ad have a good safe year at school.

Meanwhile, in the South Park, scouts from Boy Scout Troop 82 replaced an old flag with a new one in a short ceremony that included the proper way to fold an American flag. A local family donated the flag.

Nearby, American Legion Auxiliary members Janie Quiroba and Elizabeth Estavillo explained that the 50 shoeboxes full of school supplies went fast and they noted generous donors contributed to the supplies inside.

Also in the South Park at the Apricot Valley Elementary School booth, Mouso Mourtazo, 7 said the event was great. “I came for fun,.” He said. His sibling Mary, 11, a student at Creekside Middle School, added. “I came to learn more about my school and I’m going to meet the teachers.” Their mom, Tahmina said it was a great event. “It’s amazing — we’re so glad to be here. This is my third year bringing the kids.” The Klaas Kids Foundation fingerprinted almost 200 children. The foundation came to town for the first time in 2011 after City Council member Deborah Novelli met Marc Klaas when he helped distribute fliers after local child Juliani Cardenas was taken from his grandmother’s arms in January 2011.

PJUSD board member Kay Silva Johnson attended for the third time.

‘This is a really great jump-start for the new school year,” Johnson said. “It gets the kids excited and raring to go.”

Meanwhile, at Saturday’s party, students and their friends walked through the parks and the circle and also watched presentations on the circle that included dancers and gymnasts and featured contests coordinated by a disc jockey and master of ceremonies.

Those who wished to walk a couple of blocks were treated to free ice cream and root beer floats at the Welcome Back-to-Church Ice Cream Social hosted by the Federated Church. More than 550 people took advantage of the treat, up from the 300 people who stopped by last year. Dennis McCord was in charge of the event and Connie and Kevin Debler were Outreach Team Chairpersons.

The local festival began in 2002 as The Red Ribbon Rally, a Red Ribbon Week event sponsored by Stanislaus County. It was expanded under the local recreation department the following year and was known as the Fall Family Festival for the next few years. In 2011, the recreation department’s first Child Safety Fair was held in its place. Most recently, the school district partnered with the recreation department, adding more booths and sponsors and now, taking up both the North and South Parks.

Contact Maddy Houk at 892-6187, ext. 22, or maddy@pattersonirrigator.com.

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