Masked children wielding foam swords engaged in mock battles Saturday afternoon at the Sonoma County Family YMCA in Santa Rosa.
One child crawled into a police cruiser on the scene as others hid in a Santa Rosa fire engine. While chaotic, there was no carnage. The children were taking part in the annual Healthy Kids Day organized by the YMCA.
Alena Carnes, of Sebastopol, looked on as her kids Malichy, 10, and Patience, 8, participated in a fencing demonstration wearing protective masks and carrying foam swords.
“They’ve become addicted to it,” Carnes said of her children’s interest in fencing. “And me, too — it’s a great workout.”
Carnes has brought her children to Healthy Kids Day for the past few years to play in inflatable bounce houses and spend a few hours outside with dozens of other families.
For more than two decades the Sonoma County Family YMCA has hosted the event, which was expected to draw up to 400 people and more than a dozen service providers.
“We want to introduce kids to the kinds of things we do and also show parents the services available to the community,” said Michelle Corington, development director with the YMCA. “We try to combat too much digital time and sedentary lifestyles.”
The Sonoma County Family YMCA has 20 pre-school and after-school programs that reach thousands of families, Corington said.
Kids ate free veggie tacos and snow cones in the midday sun as YMCA volunteers and employees spoke with parents about summer camps and after-school programs.
Some children got their faces painted to resemble lions, tigers and Batman, while others had chocolate smeared on their cheeks from a chocolate fountain brought to the event by employees of Patelco Credit Union.
New York Life, an insurance company, presented a large cardboard check for $5,000 at the event. Corington said the funds would be used to teach water safety skills over the summer to students from the Roseland School District.
Santa Rosa Fire Capt. Alan Simpson stood by a fire engine talking to a mother as a few kids explored inside the vehicle.
“They’re either really scared of it or really like it,” Simpson said of the fire engine.
Five-year-old Desirae Arvizo liked it so much she didn’t want to leave. She’d made the trip north from Petaluma with her mother, Robin, and 2-month-old brother, Samuel. But new friends inside the fire engine beckoned and her mom had just one trick to coax her out: the promise of face paint.
You can reach Staff Writer Nick Rahaim at 707-521-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @nrahaim.