It was sunny and humid on Thursday, with the temperature reportedly in the mid-80s early in the afternoon-- perfect weather for the estimated 130 area youth who took part in Memorial Park's annual Inner Park Day.
According to Ben and Luke Daghir, recreation assistants at the park and co-coordinators of Inner Park Day, there were 10 different events this year and participants were split up into 10 groups based on age and gender. The event was open to boys and girls between the ages of five and 14 years old.
According to the Daghirs, participants this year hailed from St. Marys and neighboring communities such as Kersey, Johnsonburg, and Ridgway.
Events this year included a hockey shoot, soccer shoot, basketball shoot, obstacle course, tennis, football throw, and net catch, which was a new event this year.
"Net catch involves the event coordinator [hitting] a tennis ball into the air and then they [the youth participants] have a little net and they have to catch the ball in it. It's very difficult," Luke Daghir said.
While net catch may be something new to challenge participants, the most popular event each year is arguably the pie-eating contest. For that event, participants are given a mini pie tin filled with a graham cracker crust and their choice of either chocolate or vanilla pudding along with an optional topping of whipped cream. They then have to sit on their hands and eat the pie as quickly as they can.
Participants were also given a break in the middle of the day to enjoy a snack consisting of grapes, chips, pretzels and cookies. Pizza was served at the conclusion of the event, coinciding with the presentation of awards and other giveaways.
There was no charge to participate in the event.
"There's no such thing as a free lunch, except at Inner Park Day," Luke Daghir said.
According to Jason Schreiber, director of operations and recreation at Memorial Park, water stations were also set up throughout the facility during the event.
"They have placed water throughout the park at different sports so that everybody stays hydrated, and then we're going to do lemonade and Kool-Aid and stuff for lunch and [have other beverages] for the pizza in the afternoon," Schreiber said.
There were 12 Memorial Park staff workers assisting with the event, as well as roughly 10 high school students who were helping out to earn service hours. Three staff members from Benzinger Park also provided assistance.
"We'd like to give Benzinger Park a shout-out thank you for helping out. We do appreciate it," Ben Daghir said.