09/21/11 — Safety check day will include food, fun, deals for families

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Safety check day will include food, fun, deals for families

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on September 21, 2011 1:46 PM

Bennie Grady remembers when he and other first responders arrived at the scene of a fatal crash -- how the driver of a mangled vehicle left behind a frightened 3-year-old in the back seat.

He relives the experience of watching the child being pried from the car and loaded into a helicopter -- of seeing just how scared the sound of sirens and the flash of emergency lights were making her.

That particular scene is among dozens the State Highway Patrol trooper used as motivation when he -- with the help of local businesses and law enforcement officials -- created "Community Day," a festival designed to draw attention to the need for parents to properly install child safety seats.

Grady said attendance at the event has been growing since its inception several years ago and he added that he expects to see even more families this year when the festival begins Saturday at 10 a.m. at Berkeley Mall.

"Anything and everything you can about wrap your head around will be there," Grady said. "What we're hoping is that parents will come out and allow their children to have a phenomenal day at no cost."

Some will come out to enjoy french fries, popcorn, barbecue and hot dogs.

Others will head for three "massive" inflatables with their children.

Grady said visitors to the event might also get a chance to see a NASCAR race car up close.

Carnival games will be set up across the mall parking lot and emergency vehicles and equipment will be on display.

The festival will continue until at least 2 p.m.

And money raised during the event -- the activities are free but a "small fee" of $2 will be charged for each plate of food -- will be used to fund Safe Kids Wayne County, the organization committed to ensuring car seats are properly installed.

Grady said Safe Kids Wayne County volunteers and local law enforcement personnel will be intent Saturday on getting parents to have their vehicle's child safety equipment checked -- and will be offering a special bag of discounts provided by local merchants to encourage them to participate.

The idea, Grady said, is to make sure Wayne County's children are transported safely.

"It saves lives," he said.