Shell Factory & Nature Park’s Give Fest draws crowd
Registration topped 1,600 for the Shell Factory & Nature Park’s Give Fest on Saturday.
It was an event created by Shell Factory owner Tom Cronin Sr. and wife Pamela to allow local families undergoing economic hard times to enjoy a day of free fun — a “stay-cation” they may have not been able to afford on their own.
Families registered via local nonprofit agencies and the response was overwhelming.
“We are so proud and amazed by the support from area agencies and local companies,” said Pamela Cronin. “This is such a wonderful experience for the families. Not only are they enjoying the bumper boats, miniature golf, water wars, Nature Park and a picnic there are 26 booths of activities.
“This entire day was my husband Tom’s idea, he wanted to make certain that children in the community had a happy experience to relate when they return to school in a couple weeks,” she said.
Cronin said she was called from the registration area when a group of 14 from the local ACT organization showed up not registered.
“We had fabulous volunteers at the gate that made an executive decision and let them in,” she said.
There were players from Miracle Baseball including Jair Fernandez and Sterlin Delasantos, who worked a children’s batting booth.
Miracle community relations director Joy Donahue said she and the players enjoyed the event.
“We love to be involved with the community and give back. Players especially like to be out in the community,” she said.
Director of promotions for Way-FM 88.7 Cobi Knight and wife Danielle Flood, public relations director for ECHO or the Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization, helped out at the event.
“This is what Way-FM is all about — the community,” said Knight. “We ran into some listeners here — we are a listener-supported radio station. We are not out to make money, they help us.”
Cronin especially thanked two main volunteers, Lisa Cronin-Miller of LARC Inc. and Loreen Harriman, who described herself as a Girlee Girlze member.
Cronin-Miller said getting organizations involved and donations for the day was easy.
“I just started making calls and everyone in the community jumped in. They said they would do what it takes if it was for Pam and Tom Cronin,” she said.
Suzy Condenzio at the Mother Earth Natural Food booth talked to parents about kid healthy products.
“A lot of people don’t know we have supplements for kids,” she said.
“It’s a wonderful sight to see so many happy faces,” said Donna Ellis, marketing manager for the Shell Factory, who made rounds with the Cronins. “The volunteers have given an enormous amount of time and energy and should be highly commended.”
“The ‘day-cation’ fun was offered free thanks to team Shell Factory and many other area companies and organizations for families who otherwise may not be able to enjoy the miniature golf, bumper boats, water wars, Nature Park and a good old fashioned summertime cookout together,” said Pamela Cronin. “Lee County administration and LeeTran have graciously provided free transportation for preregistered families to and from the event on their regularly scheduled buses, and Sheriff Mike Scott promised several activities for the families.”
From the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy “T” Tyus, Capt. Chris Velez and Deputy Jeff Santella talked to children about driving safety and gave out junior deputy toy badges.
“We’re trying to promote safe driving and the Teen Driving Challenge,” said Velez. “We had over 1,000 junior deputy badges and they are almost gone.”
Ron Dice volunteers with the sheriff’s office and helped fingerprint kids.
“I probably had about 150 in two hours,” he said.
Volunteer Lisa Valentine helped Habitat For Humanity’s Vice President Karen Quanstrom at their booth.
“We’re here to spread the word about affordable home ownership with our interest-free mortgages,” said Quanstrom.
The groups created games, hands-on learning booths, crafts, shows and instructive demonstrations, all free.
On stage family entertainment included Chip Withrow’s “Folk rock for groovin families!” and performances by students of Huffmaster Academy and the Praise Band of Living Faith Church.
“In this time of economic turbulence, the Give Fest will offer an unparalleled experience for the families who need a bit of happiness most,” said Cronin.