06/05/11 — Having fun and learning

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Having fun and learning

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on June 5, 2011 1:50 AM

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Katie Westbrook blows a giant bubble at Saturday's Born Learning Festival, sponsored by the Partnership for Children. More than 40 agencies and hundreds of children gathered at Herman Park.

Mikey Reyes wasn't quite ready to face his fears.

"I don't want to," the 6-year-old said, moments after realizing that, after a long wait under a shade tree, he had made it to the front of a line filled with children who wanted to take a ride on a horse. "He's too big."

The boy's father, Anthony, smiled.

"I can't really blame him," he said, putting an arm around his son. "That thing must look like a giant, you know?"

But just as Anthony took his little boy's hand and started to lead him to the Herman Park playground, Mikey had a change of heart.

"I'm gonna do it," he said, reaching out to pet the large, brown horse he would, seconds later, mount. "It's OK."

"That a boy," his father replied, giving him a pat on the back before lifting him onto the saddle. "I knew you could do it buddy."

Hundreds of local families converged on Herman Park Saturday afternoon to take in the food, games and activities offered at the Partnership for Children's Born Learning Festival.

And while Mikey took a lap on the back of his new four-legged friend, others were choking down hot dogs, pizza and popcorn before heading over to the Kiwanis Club train for a free ride.

Like Emma Jacobs and her daughter, Susie, who, after wiping ketchup off their faces, walked over to the tracks for, what Emma called, "a little break."

"She loves the train. It's her favorite place at the park," Susie's mother said. "What she doesn't know is that for Mommy, getting on that thing is a nice break from chasing her around the playground."

But providing children with enough fun to last all day was not the only goal of the festival.

It was also an opportunity for parents to receive an education on everything from the advantages of breastfeeding to some of the beneficial programming offered across the county.

"This is a great little event," said Margaret Williams who, with her two sons in tow, had picked up pamphlets at nearly a dozen booths before noon. "It sounds horrible, but I really wouldn't expect something like this in Goldsboro. ... So it's a treat."

Her 8-year-old, Chase, agreed.

But his opinion of the festival seemed to have more to do with the doughnuts he was holding in each hand.

"Mom didn't want hers," he said, smiling before taking a bite. "Lucky."