Photo by Johnny Jackson
Clayton County firefighters Charles Edwards (l) and Cody Whitlock (r) with Keenan Knox and his family, girlfriend Jasmine Jones, and children Kole, 1, and Kenzie, 3.
JONESBORO — Tari McBride, 15, kept a close eye on his three brothers. His brother, Cantrell Etheridge, 5, was the most outgoing in the group, discovering the different exhibits in the small park.
The family was taking part in the Eighth Annual Marriage and Family Day June 13 at the old courthouse park in Jonesboro. The event included food, music and games.
Etheridge had just finished a spool of cotton candy before he took the invitation to explore a Clayton County fire truck.
Firefighters Charles Edwards of Station No. 1 in Riverdale and Cody Whitlock of Station No. 13 in Jonesboro were on hand to give youngsters a tour of the vehicle and explain how they do their jobs fighting fires and saving lives.
Jonesboro resident Keenan Knox took his young family — his girlfriend, Jasmine Jones, and their children Kenzie, 3, and Kole, 1.
The unwed couple take their children to several family outings and are practically a nuclear family, said Knox, who added that marriage is in their future.
“It will happen,” said Knox.
Such is the goal of the Thursday’s festivities, said Rhonda Burnough, chairwoman of the South Metro Marriage and Family Alliance which hosted Marriage and Family Day.
Burnough said the event is the result of a community-wide rally back in 2006. Seventy-five local pastors converged onto the old courthouse lawn downtown and signed an agreement to campaign for and promote marriage and family.
“It’s always the Thursday before Father’s Day to celebrate marriages and families,” said Burnough. “Our goal is to equip healthy marriages and healthy families. Strong communities have strong families.”
Etheridge’s mother, Clea Etheridge, said she was pleased and encouraged by the alliance and its Marriage and Family Day event.
“I think it’s really nice,” she said. “It’s the first time I’ve come out to the event. I really think it’s for a good cause to celebrate marriages in the county and where you have people coming together in a family unit.”
Those who attended the event heard greetings from Clayton County Commissioner Michael Edmondson who talked about what makes his family work. They also heard from winners of the alliance’s annual essay competition.
Jackson Elementary School fourth-graders Mykael Hunter, Andrea Salinas Olivar and Jaydon Robinson were named winners. They were asked to explain “Why does family matter?” Each essay winner received a $25 gift certificate to Walmart.
Burnough said resources for families and married couples are available at www.gomarriage.org.