KidsFest! Kiwanis to put on huge party for kids Saturday
By TIFFANY REPECKI
Local families looking for some free fun on Saturday can check out the 17th Annual KidsFest.
Organized by the Harney Point Kiwanis of Cape Coral, the festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Jaycee Park. The event will feature multiple stage performances, children’s rides and activities, two Halloween costume contests, a backpack giveaway, fingerprinting services for youths and more.
Eric Feichthaler, an event organizer, explained that the festival was started nearly two decades ago as an educational exposition. Families could learn about drowning prevention, fire safety and such.
“Then it expanded to include entertainment – it’s a venue for the kids and various organizations to perform at,” he said. “It gives the local youth a lot of opportunity to perform on the big stage.”
This year, 10 different acts will take the stage throughout the day. There will be performances by the Cultural Park Theatre and five dance studios, as well as a demonstration by the Kobayashi Dojo.
Along with the entertainment, attendees can enjoy any of the rides – for free.
“We don’t charge anything,” Feichthaler said.
There will be pony rides, rock climbing and a giant inflatable slide. For the first time, the festival will also have a motion simulator ride, which could mimic riding on a roller coaster or flying in a plane.
Motion simulators usually cost a few bucks per ride at events.
“But it’s going to be free at ours,” he said.
The Gunterberg Charitable Foundation has donated backpacks for the first 500 children. Feichthaler explained that the youths get to fill their backpacks with free goodies available from the vendors.
For example, the law firm Burandt, Adamski & Feichthaler will hand out mini-flashlights.
“We have these really cool LED flashlights that don’t require a battery,” he said. “They’ll be great for Halloween – for safety.”
Each year, the Kiwanis Club of Cape Coral gives away books to the children.
“They give away hundreds of books every year,” Feichthaler said.
Many of the booths, manned by local businesses and organizations, will hold giveaways.
At 11 a.m. and again at 3 p.m., there will be a Halloween costume contest. Children age 18 and under can sign up starting five minutes before the competitions. A panel of judges will pick the winners.
The prizes include Key West Express tickets, tickets to “ANNIE” at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall and tickets to the Cultural Park Theatre, as well as gift certificates, T-shirts and more.
The Cape Coral Masonic Lodge and the city will both offer fingerprinting on site.
“We also serve hotdogs and sodas,” he said. “Everything’s a dollar.”
While the event and activities are free, the Harney Point Kiwanis asks that attendees bring a non-perishable food item as admission. The food will be donated to the Cape Coral Caring Center.
“We do ask for a $2 parking donation, as well,” Feichthaler said.
He explained that it is an all-volunteer club, so the parking donations go toward programs that the Harney Point Kiwanis support, including $2,400 in scholarships for local high school seniors.
“We want to give back to the community,” Feichthaler said, adding that he himself was a Kiwanis scholarship recipient back when he was in high school.
The donations also help support 10 community service clubs, such as the Key Club and K-Kids, and this year the group is starting a program that will give away atlases to fourth-grades in the Cape.
“We’ve committed to two schools now,” he said. “I hope that we can do all of them.”
Organizers recommend that those planning to attend get there early.
“So they can enjoy as much as they want to,” Feichthaler said. “It’s such a great crowd.”
Attendance numbers for last year’s festival were unavailable.
“Every year, we’ve gotten more and more successful,” he said. “We park around 1,500 cars, at least, every year.”
Feichthaler encouraged the public to come by Saturday and check it out.
“I think that it’s been recognized as the best kids event in Southwest Florida because of its free nature and because of all the things that are there for the kids,” he said.
After the festival, Cape Coral Mayor Marni Sawicki will lead a community event to stop bullying at Jaycee Park starting at 6 p.m. The event is part of “The BULLY Project,” a social action campaign inspired by the award-winning film “BULLY.” The film will play on a big inflatable screen at sunset.
“October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and the city of Cape Coral is joining with other cities in the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ campaign to end bullying,” Sawicki said in a prepared statement.
“Millions of kids are bullied each year, and we need to work together to create safe and caring schools and communities,” she said.
Sawicki will be joined by Chris Cheney, a victim of bullying. “The Voice” contestant Ricky Manning will perform, and a raffle will be held for an opportunity to win an Xbox or a gift card to Coach.
The event is free; attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets.
A 98-minute film, “BULLY” is the first feature documentary to show how everyone is affected by bullying, whether as a victim, perpetrator or silent witness. The film is rated PG-13.
For more information about KidsFest, visit the event’s Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/HarneyPointOfCapeCoralKiwanisKidsFest.
For more information on “The BULLY Project,” visit: www.thebullyproject.com.
Jaycee Park is at 4125 S.E. 20th Place.