Around 200 area youth between the ages of five and 14 participated in Inner Park Day at Memorial Park on Wednesday. According to Memorial Park recreation director Denny Posteraro, the turnout was a new record for the event, which has been held off and on since the 1970s.
Posteraro noted that attendance typically averages around 125, and the previous largest group record was close to 170.
"You're always impressed when the numbers go up, and we know that there are a lot of other things going on," Posteraro said.
Posteraro said that the event initially started as an effort to promote interaction between the city's various parks.
"In 1986, I actually have a video of the kids from Kaulmont. [They] came over as a group and they had a flag. John Wittman was in charge of the park out there. He paraded them through the Diamond downtown. They were all dressed in camouflage and they came over for Inner Park Day," Posteraro said.
The 10 events offered at this year's Inner Park Day included a pie-eating contest, hockey shoot and obstacle course.
"We've adjusted the events occasionally, but they're all events with the idea of kids having a good time. [The events are] not necessarily something they do all the time, so it's a little bit different and they're geared to be fun events," Posteraro said.
Park employees Ben and Luke Daghir served as recreational assistants for this year's event. Posteraro noted that the Daghirs are two of around 20 area teens working at the park this summer and are employed through the Stackpole Hall Foundation. He said the duo not only put a lot of effort into encouraging area youth to attend the event, but also worked hard to ensure that everything ran smoothly throughout the day.
"The point of Inner Park Day is to have a bunch of kids come to the park and do a bunch of different events with their age division with all their friends, and just compete and have fun. It's all free," Luke Daghir said. "It's only a few hours, but they get a free lunch and pretty much just have fun."