Mothers organize fun-filled day for New Windsor youth

June 26, 1994|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Sun Staff Writer

Cool breezes, hot dogs, watermelon, cross-dressers and The Juggling Idiots -- Children's Day in New Windsor had something for everyone.

An impromptu activity spawned by a mother's concern and planned during front porch chit-chat, Children's Day was deemed an instant success by the 25 children who woke up yesterday morning with a little something extra -- plans for the day.

"It's the children's day. They rule the nest," said head organizer Paula Eckenrode, the mother of two and a self-proclaimed advocate for New Windsor's children. "These kids can be a lot of fun when they know someone cares and is willing to help them."

The daylong activities started as a discussion Tuesday between Mrs. Eckenrode, Sandy Dieudonne, Betty Boone, Jane Bryant and Cindy Marshall, mothers who decided that there were not many children's activities in town.

The town's TYPE program, which had provided activities for children during the winter, has been inactive, and the recreation council's activities are not for everyone, the women said.

So by Friday, about 20 businesses had donated food, supplies, prizes and gift certificates to the cause. The Brethren Service Center donated the use of its property.

"This is pretty good for short notice," said Ms. Marshall, watching as children scrambled after balloons for the balloon-pop event. "Just working together and we got it done."

Some sponsors of the event include A&W Country Meats Inc. and Hatfields Country Meats in Taneytown, Loews, Roy Rogers, Shepherd's Staff, Monopoly and Dominos pizza shops, and Card-O-Rama in Westminster.

Local businesses such as Strawsburg Liquors and the New Windsor Pharmacy decided to lend a hand, as did Original Pizza and the pharmacy and St. James Lutheran Church in neighboring Union Bridge.

Mrs. Eckenrode said she tried unsuccessfully to get assistance

from the local recreation council. The town government also chose not to get involved, she said.

"They talk about doing things like this, but they just don't do anything," Mrs. Eckenrode said. "So a few mothers just started talking about it and, boom, we just decided to do it."

And do it they did.

Events such as the balloon-pop relay race and duck, duck, goose kept the younger children happy, but just about everyone was delighted as they rushed to Ms. Bryant, who dressed them for a fashion show.

First place in the fashion show was 13-year-old Tommy Viens, whose tuft of red hair crowning a cleanly shaven head accented the green cotton dress and white flats he modeled for an enthusiastic crowd.

"I've done this before," said Tommy, his face shining from rouge and lipstick, batting lashes over hazel-gray eyes. "I just like walking around like this, to see what people say."

The talent show featured a counting song by 4-year-old Patty Carbaugh and a jazzy rendition of "The Itsy Bitsy Spider."

But the winner was The Juggling Idiots, a comic foursome whose trading-tennis balls-in-air juggling trick astounded the adults and children alike.

"I'd like to thank my first-grade teacher. . ." kidded Billy Hackley, 15, the group's leader.

His sister, Marrianne, and their cousins Marion and Lisa Peak, who are also members of the group, laughed and accepted their gift certificates.

Billy -- in a brown checkered skirt with a matching sweater tied at the waist and his hair in a pony-tail -- had been the runner-up in the fashion show competition.

The women said that this event is only the first of many they plan to hold weekly throughout the summer.

Other activities may include a camp out, marshmallow roasts, a neighborhood cleanup and movie nights.

"This will give these kids something to do," said Claude Haines, who was visiting the area. "It will keep them out of trouble. It can't hurt."

To donate time or items for future events, call Mrs. Eckenrode at 848-1919. Students can earn credit toward the community service requirement for graduation by helping with these events.

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