WINCHESTER — Family Day returns this weekend to Frederick Douglass Park in Winchester’s North End.
Vivian Walker, president of the Frederick Douglass Park Club that oversees Family Day, said the annual community event is now in its 49th year. Due to the pandemic, though, this Family Day will be slightly different from most of those in the past.
“A lot had to be scaled back,” Walker said, because of social-distancing concerns prompted by the coronavirus. “It’s just for everyone’s protection.”
For example, a pool party and kickball tournament that are traditionally held during Family Day weekend were instead held during the first weekend of August in an attempt to keep crowds as small as possible.
Regardless, there will be plenty for folks to see and do this weekend, especially when compared to last year’s COVID-abbreviated Family Day that squeezed several days worth of activities into a four-hour window.
This year’s Family Day, which is free to attend, starts Saturday with a gospel concert from 5 to 8 p.m. in Frederick Douglass Park at 598 N. Kent St. Scheduled performers include Susan Shields and the Harambe Choir from Shenandoah University, and Walker said some other special guests are expected. Concessions will be available for purchase.
The main Family Day activities take place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday in the park. Six DJs will be spinning tunes throughout the day, and attendees can enjoy a diverse array of food, yard games and activities including an art show and screen printing.
Unfortunately, Walker said, there will be no bounce houses or slides “because we have no way of sanitizing them in between every child who gets on there.” However, any disappointment should be tempered by some of the unique games that will offered, including life-size versions of classic board games like checkers, Jenga and Connect 4.
A Family Day tradition that remains unchanged this year is the free community lunch that will be served from 1 p.m. Sunday until the food is gone. Walker said the Winchester Police Foundation is providing the meal, which will feature pizza from Claudio’s Pizzeria in Winchester plus chips and drinks.
“Volunteers from the Winchester Police Department will be distributing the lunch for us,” Walker said.
For those who miss lunch, food will be available to purchase throughout the day from local vendors.
Walker said tradition and a sense of community are her two favorite things about Family Day, an event first held in 1972.
“If we get away from the original idea behind Family Day, then we’ve been doing it all wrong,” she said.
This weekend, two avid Family Day supporters will be celebrated for their countless contributions to the annual gathering. The first is Richard Sylvester “Dickie” Walker Sr., who died on May 4 at the age of 78. The second is Walker’s husband, Terry Lynn Walker, who passed away on Jan. 13 at the age of 44.
“Finding volunteers as invested and dedicated to Family Day as they were has proven to be difficult,” Walker said. “We truly miss them and what we do will always be in honor of them.”
For more information about this weekend’s Family Day events or to learn more about volunteering, visit the Frederick Douglass Park Club’s Facebook page at facebook.com/FrederickDouglassParkOrganization.