The first annual Community Children’s Safety Fair and Tri-County Blood Drive was a success despite a lower-than-expected turnout.
The UC Police Dept. sponsored the event, held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Robertson Field. The event was held to promote children’s safety in the community and get blood donations for the Tri-County Blood Bank.
“This was our first festival and we hope to be doing it annually from now on,” UCPD Detective Bill van Nieuwenhuize said. “We were hoping for 500 people. In the future, perhaps we should hold it a little closer to the beginning of the school year.”
The event provided a free barbecue, popcorn and cotton candy. Entertainment included fire engines, the Rescue 7 ambulance and police cars for kids to explore in addition to three “bouncy houses.” Radio station KRAZy Country FM 105.9 set up a tent with a live radio broadcast, and police handed out Internet safety materials, fingerprinted children and distributed emergency data forms to parents.
Patricia Castro of the Isla Vista Youth Project volunteered at the fingerprinting booth.
“I came to volunteer, hoping families from the community would come,” she said. “We’ve had a good turnout at this booth. So far we’ve fingerprinted over 30 kids.”
Children were fingerprinted so that if they are ever abducted, police will have an easier time identifying them.
The Tri-County Blood Bank also had a booth set up so that people could donate blood.
“The police asked us to come down and do this. It’s been pretty slow,” Blood Bank nurse Paula Solis said. “Many people couldn’t donate today because they didn’t know they had to bring picture ID.”
Goleta resident Monique Morelos said she enjoyed the fair and brought her four children, three nieces and one friend.
“I brought my kids along to get fingerprints. It’s great but it’s too bad there aren’t more people,” she said. “I would come back if they held it again.”
Due to the low turnout at the event, van Nieuwenhuize said the UCPD has 200 extra Internet safety kits available. Anyone interested in acquiring one can contact him at 893-8477.