By Johnny Jackson
Six years ago a handful of individuals successfully got together and proposed a small event about nothing in particular for families to enjoy at little expense.
Margaret McCall, Susan Adams, Deb Salter, Luvenia Jackson, Antiwan Tucker, and Mike and Susie McCray, however, were not satisfied with small. They wanted bigger. And they went bigger on the event they now call Sensational Saturday.
The founders will celebrate their 6th Annual Sensational Saturday this Saturday. The event runs from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
The thankful bunch have new sponsors in the Clayton County Public Schools who will assist the Clayton County International Park and other community organizations involved with some 250 volunteers.
"We wanted to do something family-friendly that was affordable at The Beach Clayton County International Park," said Susie McCray, specialist at student services with the county and the event coordinator.
After parents pay a two-dollar admission to The Beach, they may walk around with their children and experience at least a dozen different exhibits, one-dollar lunches, arts-and-crafts and story-telling booths, and most things from inflatables to house-fire simulations.
McCray's son Sgt. Brad McCray along with Lt. Tony Duck of the Jonesboro Fire Department will help with the event's marquee exhibit, the Fire Safety Expo.
Brad McCray said the event garnered between 8,000 and 10,000 patrons yearly since the first year.
"It was bigger than we expected," he said. "I hope we have a good turnout like we've had in the past. I think a lot of the parents want to go out and take their children who always want to stop at the fire stations. And I think it's very important to teach children about fire safety, to save lives."
This year, he said various fire departments from the south metro-Atlanta area will participate with displays, demonstrations, and simulations on fire safety. About 30 firefighters will volunteer their time throughout the day, able to share their expertise and heroic tales with children and adults alike.
Suzanne Igler is the coordinator of program development and services for Juvenile Courts.
Igler, also a proponent of juvenile courts for juvenile treatment and rehabilitation, joins four other juvenile corrections officers and about 20 juvenile offenders each year to volunteer their services to the community.
"I think it gives them a greater sense of community," she said. "They need this opportunity to give back. Our kids usually surprise the agencies that give them the opportunity to volunteer. They're just kids who've made mistakes and need an opportunity to turn that around. They usually go away with pride that they helped do something, that they have come together as a team and have been successful."
Last year, the teenagers supervised games for the smaller children; this year, they will help prepare and serve the food, she said.
"This is one of the few events that its really families having fun without spending a lot of money," Igler said. "It's an opportunity for everyone to enjoy it. 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."
For that, she commented, the organizers "have met their goal."