By Stephanie Choate
Children from Williston and beyond can play games, dance, create art and score lots of all-important free loot at Williston Kids Day, a free event set for Saturday.
“Stickers and pencils are huge on (my daughter’s) meter of what’s important,” said resident Jen Daudelin, who attended last year’s event with her daughter, now 6.
“It was a lot of fun,” Daudelin said. “I think it was well organized, especially having lots of different things for different age levels.”
Williston Kids Day, an event created by the Williston Observer, is returning for a second year to Williston Central School on March 14 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
“It far exceeded our expectations,” said Marianne Apfelbaum, co-owner of Williston Publishing & Promotions, which includes the Observer. “We thought it was going to be fairly well attended, but we didn’t anticipate the number of parents who had serious cabin fever, and the place was packed.”
She said the reaction from attendees was overwhelmingly positive.
“People are so excited that there is an event like this at this time of year, when it’s so dreary and people are just so sick of winter,” she said. “We overheard one little girl last year say it was the best day of her life. Kids loved it, parents and grandparents loved it. It was a great family event.”
Admission is free, with a suggested $1 donation per person to the Williston Community Food Shelf. Last year, the food shelf raised $1,041 at the event, both in admission donations and a raffle it held.
Daudelin will be volunteering for the food shelf this year, but said her husband plans to bring the couple’s children. Daudelin encouraged locals and visitors to check out the event and support the food shelf.
“It’s a wonderful way for people in the community to support the food shelf,” she said. “This way, they’re coming and having a good time and supporting a great organization.”
Apfelbaum said organizers are bringing back all the popular activities from last year, and adding some new ones.
Kids get a free slice of Ramunto’s pizza while supplies last. Lunch items—sandwiches, snacks and pizza—and ice cream will also be for sale, and some local businesses will provide free food samples.
The school will be full of indoor activities for kids of all ages—arts and crafts, soccer clinics with Vermont Voltage, open basketball, musical theater, a photo booth, bouncy castles, a clown with balloon animals and bubbles, face painting and more.
New this year, Arabesque Etc. Dance will present musical theater, as well as fairy tale and hip-hop dance sessions. Martina Price, director and owner of the Richmond dance studio, will choose several fairy tales to act out with young children in the fairy tale dance sessions.
“It’s creative storytelling through dance with costumes and musical instruments,” she said. “It’s lots of fun. Kids adore it.”
Her teenaged dance instructors will also lead two hip-hop sessions—one for kids and one for adults and teens. The kids’ session is “a lot of fun and it’s bouncy and it’s cool, but it’s age-appropriate,” she said. The adult session will be a “beginner class for people who want to see what it’s like to put their swag on,” Price said.
Price said she is looking forward to reaching out to people who may not consider themselves dancers.
“It gives people a chance who would never go through the door of a dance studio to see it is actually a lot of fun and it doesn’t really matter if you think you’re dance material or not,” she said. “I hope people have a great time, that’s what its all about…. It’s something fun and something indoors at the very end of the season when we’re all dying to move.”
Apfelbaum said she and her husband, Paul, decided to create the event to provide something affordable that local families can do together.
“We remember being parents of younger children and the frustration at the lack of things to do in March,” she said. “We thought this would be something we could provide for the community and we could also raise money for the Williston Community Food Shelf.”
Parents, grandparents and guardians can also learn about area businesses and organizations, including the Williston Fire Department, which will have a fire truck on site for kids to explore. The Williston Police Department will also be there.
“It’s the least expensive, most fun thing a parent can do on March 14, and it’s for a good cause,” Apfelbaum said.