Children will choose sides for the Fire Department or Police Department and lob water balloons at each other to cap Saturday’s 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Public Safety Block Party on West Grady Street.
Police, who reportedly have thousands of balloons available, hope firefighters don’t resort to the hoses. The block party, sponsored by the Fire Department and the Statesboro Police Officers Foundation, will be the second of two public safety-related events for youth and families Saturday in Statesboro. The first is the privately sponsored, city-endorsed Anti-Bullying Day, 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Mill Creek Regional Park.
Scheduled to allow families to participate in both if they wish, these two events are not in competition. The Statesboro Police Department will have an active presence at Mill Creek during the Anti-Bullying Day activities.
“As soon as that’s done, everybody can come over here and eat and have a good time,” said SPD Capt. Kaleb Moore, one of the Public Safety Block Party organizers. “That’s why we scheduled them the way we did, so they’d back up to each other, and so it’s just a good day for everybody.”
Both events were planned for the final Saturday before school starts back Aug. 1 for Bulloch County Schools students.
For the afternoon Public Safety Block Party, the city plans to close West Grady Street from South College Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. That places the center of action between the fire station at 24 and police headquarters at 25 W. Grady St.
Open to children, teens and accompanying grownups, the block party will offer free hotdogs, hamburgers, snow cones and cotton candy. Attractions will include bouncy houses, water slides and live music. Any “vendors” will be those willing to give things away, Moore said.
“It’s all free,” he said. “Nobody needs to bring any money.”
The balloon fight is planned for just before the conclusion of the party, around 6 p.m., Moore said.
“We’re going to let the kids join in on it, whatever team they want to be on, either the Fire Department or the Police Department, and we’re going to have a water balloon fight in the middle of the street,” he said.
He had purchased more than 2,000 balloons just for the police team.
The purpose, Moore said, is simply community outreach for the two departments, “a way to give back to the community and have a good time.”
But first, a good time with a message, Anti-Bullying Day, will offer some similar attractions, minus the balloon fight but with a dunking booth, skill demonstrations, raffles and a scholarship contest, at Mill Creek Regional Park on Georgia Highway 24 East, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
This event will also feature a self-defense group’s demonstrations of bullying avoidance and defense techniques, a golf clinic with experienced golfers providing instruction to children, and a booth staffed by Pineland Behavioral Health counselors, said lead organizer Jeff Klare.
Freedom, the bald eagle from Georgia Southern University’s Center for Wildlife Education, is scheduled for flight. Police dogs, including new Statesboro police K-9 Smokey, will be directed to the park by the Georgia Police K9 Foundation.
School supplies and some toys will be given away.
Contest and raffles
“We’re even offering a $500 scholarship, K through 12,” Klare said. “The older kids, middle school and high school, will submit an essay, on ‘How can I help stop bullying,’ and the younger kids will draw a picture.”
Cotton candy, popcorn and snow cones will be served free, while other eatables will be sold from food trucks.
Items donated by the Walmart Distribution Center – including swing sets, grills and a 50-inch television – will be raffled off, Klare said, to benefit the K9 Foundation and also the You-Nique Mentoring Program for young women. The Statesboro High School Anti-Bullying Club, the Statesboro Community Youth Network and the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office will be represented.
This is the second year that Klare and his wife, chiropractor Dr. Amy Kitching, who own Southern Chiropractic & Statesboro Thrives Wellness Center, have worked with other sponsors to host an anti-bullying event. Key sponsors include Vaden Nissan and Morris Bank, Klare said.
After City Council earlier this year unanimously approved city participation, Anti-Bullying Day invitations were sent to Melania Trump, wife of President Donald Trump, and Marty Kemp, wife of Gov. Brian Kemp. Staff for both first ladies sent messages of regret they would not be able to attend.
But during last week’s council meeting, Councilman Derek Duke teased that at least one celebrity – Mayor Jonathan McCollar – will be available at the dunking booth.