Around 4,000 people are expected to descend on Wheeling Park on Thursday, Aug. 1, as the summer’s biggest bash for Ohio Valley kids and families — the 12th annual Celebrate Youth Festival organized by Youth Services System Inc. — is set to take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Participants will enjoy free access to amenities such as the Olympic-size swimming pool, 18-hole miniature golf and paddle boats on Good Lake at the 406-acre city park. Youth Services System provides each visitor with a drawstring backpack and some school supplies, while about 60 local agencies and businesses that serve youth and families in the Ohio Valley will set up to provide information, games and resources.
Inflatables, food and musical entertainment will be offered at the ice rink throughout the day, all free of charge. Jingles the Clown and the Bubble Wagon also will be on hand. Wheeling Fire Department will bring its Fire House demonstration, and the K-9 officers of Wheeling Police Department will meet and greet participants.
“Thanks to our main sponsor BrickStreet Foundation and event sponsors Wheeling Park and Oglebay Foundation, Youth Services System is thrilled to once again be able to offer this free end-of-summer celebration to area families,” YSS CEO John Moses said.
Moses created the event in 2008 as a “gift” to local families, some of whom might not be able to afford to take their kids to the park for a day, let alone treat them to a beach vacation. Businesses and individuals have jumped in with both feet to support the event. This year’s main sponsor is BrickStreet Foundation, and the event sponsors are Wheeling Park and Oglebay Foundation.
Additional sponsors include The Glessner Group, The Cornerstone Group, Marshall County Commission, Ohio County Commission, Orrick, EM Media, Comcast, Northwood Health Systems, Wheeling Heritage, and Brenda and Thomas Thomas.
“As we reflect back on raising our three daughters, we wonder how we would have ever done it without family, friends and a community like Wheeling. YSS staff and administration give that love, support and sense of community to youth that have not been so fortunate,” Brenda Thomas said. “We support the staff and administration for their efforts to give so many a chance in life.”
New on the food front, Texas Roadhouse will be providing pulled pork sandwiches. As always, there will be popcorn, nachos and hot dogs.
The entertainment lineup features youth musicians Hailey Lewis, I.A.N., Chris Kuskey and the Young Lions drumming group, along with the Community Made Serenade community band and Betsy Bethel-McFarland, who will perform and give a demo on the bagpipes.
Exhibitors represent organizations that serve children and families, such as the YSS Community Impact Coalition, YSS Youth Mentoring Network, Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, Ohio County Family Resource Network and the House of the Carpenter, as well as businesses such as the Cabela’s, the Ohio Valley Mall, The Health Plan and Boscov’s.