By Johnny Jackson
Thousands from the community gathered to help create fun times and fond memories at the annual Sensational Saturday this weekend.
The event, held at the Beach in the Clayton County International Park each year around this time, is simple but stated.
The 6th annual event included inflatable jumps and those timeless games created long before them.
Around the park children and adults enjoyed those simple games and stunts with friends and strangers alike. There was jump rope, volleyball, kickball, hoola-hoop, storytelling, face-painting, mask-making, limbo, dancing, and a few relay games. People ate one-dollar lunches and bought one-dollar snacks in cotton candy and snow cones.
"We walk, get information, and we play games," said Jan Ingram. "It's a good time to get information. And my children look forward to coming. Kendall was disappointed, though. He said, 'you're going to walk without me?'"
Kendall is Ingram's 6-year-old son. He walks with the family every year in the one-mile Walk Against Drugs. Ingram said he had prior engagements. But she was able to take her three daughters to the event: Andrea, 3, Britnay, 10, and 15-year-old Kaitlynn.
"The clown not paint my chin," the youngest said. Instead, "the clown" from Arts Clayton painted the back of her hands, a puppy on the left and a lady bug on the right.
Meanwhile, Brittany Howard recited an essay she wrote about being drug free; a crowd gathered around her B. C. Haynie dance troupe beneath the St. Kitts Pavilion.
"So, help me and be drug free," she said, rhyming with sassy defiance. "Because-if you don't know-my school B. C. Haynie Elementary is drug free. (So) if I don't do drugs, why should you? Because my mom taught me not to.
"I don't want to mess up my life," she said. "I want to be healthy so I can do everything I want to do in life."
Howard's mother Clara Howard was there and pointed out "that's the most important thing: parents."
B. C. Haynie principal Denise Thompson agreed and said that Howard was an extremely supportive and involved mother, a rare find sometimes.
Across the park, Donald Herbst showed one of the eight K-15 Jaguars at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport Fire Department. Herbst is a captain with the Atlanta Fire Department.
He said the Jaguar is a version of traditional fire engines, except it operates mostly to put out aircraft fires and defuse airplane crashes.
It carries 1,500 gallons of water and 500 pounds of dried powder; it sprays 1,200 gallons of water out some 300 feet per minute; and it reaches speeds up to 120 miles-per-hour on runaways, he said.
"How much gas mileage does this get?" yelled Julie Brown, a parent out with her children.
The vehicle gets four gallons per mile, Herbst answered. His was one of several exhibits in the Fire (Public) Safety Expo.
Around the bend, Gerald Bostock, the director of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children helped organize about 157 volunteers involved with supporting 700 children in Clayton County as advocates for child abuse victims.
They participated in the 7th Annual Darlin' Duck Derby, racing about 4,000 rubber ducks through a wade pool and raising funds to benefit the children.
Elsewhere, children were glad to hear stories told by professional storytellers Josie Baily and Jeanette Vaughn. Per request, Vaughn created some "scary" stories to tell the children, prepping them for this month's most hallowed ween.
"This is one of the few events that its really families having fun without spending a lot of money," said Suzanne Igler. "It's a great community event - a chance for families to come together. I can remember our community growing up, getting together. It brings back memories for people and it creates memories for the families."