WINCHESTER — Family Day organizers didn’t let a little thing like a global pandemic stop the 48th annual community celebration.
A truncated version of the event, referred to as “A Tribute to Family Day,” drew about 200 people Sunday afternoon to Frederick Douglass Park in Winchester’s North End.
Vivian Walker of the nonprofit Frederick Douglass Park Organization, which organizes each year’s Family Day, said it didn’t seem to matter the traditionally two-day event had to be squeezed into a four-hour timeframe this year because everyone still had a great time.
“There were many obstacles when it came to the COVID, but we definitely overcame because we had such an awesome group of board members, volunteers and leaders,” Walker said. “We had a lot of parents with little kids, and the activities definitely targeted those age groups.”
Adults enjoyed an afternoon of music provided by DJ Mike Jones, the Meisha Herron Band and a handful of local gospel singers. They also mingled with local political candidates, including incumbent Winchester Mayor David Smith and his opponent in the Nov. 3 election, Danielle Bostick.
About a half-dozen community organizations set up informational displays at Family Day. Walker said Valley Health handed out free face masks and first-aid kits, and the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum gave away kits that kids could take home to build a toy catapult. Visitors could also register to vote and learn more about The Laurel Center and the I’m Just Me Movement.
Kids were invited to meet a member of Nickelodeon’s Paw Patrol and participate in a range of activities, including the painting of a mural that features the likeness of the park’s namesake, legendary abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
“Kids got to go over and paint in the outline she drew,” Walker said, referring to a design created by local artist Abi Gomez of the nonprofit Arte Libre VA. “They did a really great job. We’re hopeful we can find a place in the park to hang it and show off the great skills we have in our community.”
Kids and adults alike also enjoyed free pizza, snacks and drinks served by members of the Winchester Police Department.
“In previous years, we only did the free lunch for kids,” Walker said. “This year, we opened it to kids and the adults, and that was a really huge hit.”
To reduce the possibility of spreading COVID-19, Family Day organizers surrounded Frederick Douglass Park with temporary fencing and limited the number of people allowed into the celebration.
“We hung social distancing signs and had hand sanitizer all over the place,” Walker said. “Everyone who came inside the fenced area wore a mask. It worked out.”
Planning for next year’s Family Day will begin in January, and Walker hopes the threat of COVID-19 will have passed so the 49th annual event can once again welcome the nearly 1,000 people who regularly turn out to enjoy the community celebration.
“We’ve tossed some great ideas around,” she said, “and we’re really going to hit the ground running.”