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Record crowd at KidsFest

By Staff | Oct 27, 2015

Parents and kids by the score summed up the 18th annual Kiwanis KidsFest at Jaycee Park with one common word Saturday: Fun.

Multiple bounce houses? Fun.

Trampoline bungee jumping? Fun.

Rock wall, pony rides, costume contests, craft and game booths? Fun, fun, fun and more fun!

“Just for the fun,” said mom Astrid Cuthbertson of Fort Myers, as her son, Deacon, 3-1/2 lined up to take yet another ride down the big bounce house slide. “We’re enjoying it, and I see there are lots of games.”

“It’s just a big community event, something fun and safe for the girls,” said Cape Coral mom Ethel Curtin, who also had attended with her family last year. “Arianna is here for the bounce houses.”

Arianna, 8, was specific.

“That big slide one,” she said, and pointed.

The activity-packed festival that also featured lots of live entertainment, free books and stuffed animals, fire trucks, info booths and more, was all free and all courtesy of the Harney Point Kiwanis of Cape Coral. The club partners every year with other organizations, businesses and public safety entities to put on what has become one of the city’s most popular family-oriented events.

“It went great. The weather was obviously a factor – it was excellent – and coupled with the free event, we had an excellent turnout,” said festival chair Eric P. Feichthaler. “Based on visual factors, I believe this was the biggest turnout we’ve had. In fact, based on the large turnout we had Saturday, we’re considering a larger venue next year.”

This year’s fest featured more vendors and, thanks to business and community organization support, more prizes for the costume contests, he said.

“Really, the community came out to support the event, too, so it was good,” Feichthaler said.

He gave special thanks to the primary sponsors, the Gunterberg Charitable Foundation and the Culliton Family. They have been the primary sponsors for the last three years.

“It’s because of their generosity that the pony rides and all of the attractions are free,” he said.

The businesses that set up the numerous booths, offering games, crafts, prizes and, of course Halloween candy, are glad to take part.

“Just to give the kids some trick-or-treat, to raffle off a gift basket and to give away a free annual for a dog or any pet,” said Aly Azzilonna, one of those manning the Kindness Animal Hospital booth, when asked why they participate. “Just to help give the kids a good time.”

She was asked how the children – most in costume – were receiving the booth, which featured an animal skeleton, plastic spiders, pumpkins and big – very big – bowls of candy.

“Oh, wonderful,” Azzilonna said. “They just love the ‘tattoos.’ The bubbles are also a hit and the balloons – I think kids and balloons just go together.”

Although admission and participation has traditionally been free to the public, the event also serves as a major fundraiser for the Harney Point Kiwanis Club of Cape Coral.

All the money raised goes to the Kiwanis scholarship program and other projects, including sponsorship of seven in-school service clubs and, again this year, their free atlas distribution program.

The Kiwanis Club was hoping to raise enough money to distribute the full color atlases to fourth-graders in three schools but actually should be able to do better than that, distributing the books to perhaps as many as six schools.

“That’s wonderful, we’d like to give every fourth grader a hardcover atlas to learn about the world,” Feichthaler said.