Dr. Stephen Nickse, right, and Seminole Chamber of Commerce President Roger Edleman present a child with the prize of a bike during the 2013 Kids Appreciation Day.
SEMINOLE – As the school year wraps up, area students eagerly await a 35-year-old Seminole tradition: Kids Appreciation Day.
Organized by the Seminole Chamber of Commerce, this summer kick-off event takes place on the last day of school, Wednesday, June 4, 3 to 5:30 p.m., at Seminole City Park, 7464 Ridge Road.
Geared toward elementary school-aged children in the Seminole area, the free event will feature games, giveaways and refreshments. There also will be bounce houses and various contests, and Home Depot will be on site with wood-building kits for kids.
But it’s much more than just a fun end-of-school year event, said Dr. Stephen Nickse, a Chamber member who organizes the event each year.
“The event was initiated to promote summer integrity amongst the children,” he said.
This means everything from being respectful of their parents and others to cleaning their rooms to completing their summer study assignments.
When the event was initially organized by Jimmy Johnson, Eva Jones and Jeanne Nociti 35 years ago, they envisioned Kids Appreciation Day as an old-fashioned picnic, with watermelon-eating contests, sack races and horseshoe contests, said Gretchen Cain Wells, the Chamber’s chief of operations. Today, the annual event retains many of these elements.
“It’s still like an old-time family picnic,” she said. “It’s very wholesome and promotes family values.”
Nickse is proud of the event’s longevity.
“It’s really quite a milestone,” he said.
He added, “It’s a challenge to find an event like this for children that’s free and has been going on for 35 years.”
A number of civic organizations play an active role in the annual event. The Kiwanis Club of Seminole will grill hot dogs. The Rotary Club of Seminole, the Rotary Club of Seminole Lake and the Seminole Junior Women’s Club also will assist at Kids Appreciation Day.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department and Seminole Fire Rescue will be on hand, not just to oversee safety, but also with their emergency vehicles for kids to check out.
The new Winn-Dixie on Seminole Boulevard will donate hot dogs, and McDonald’s will provide drinks and chips.
And the Chamber relies on donations from the community to keep Kids Appreciation Day alive, said Nickse.
“We can’t thank them enough,” he said.
The Chamber will accept donations throughout the day of the event. Checks can be made payable to the Seminole Chamber of Commerce, 7985 113th St. N., with a memo to earmark the funds for Kids Appreciation Day.
For more information, call the Chamber at 392-3245.