BY JURRY TAALIB-DEEN
Journal Staff Writer
Saturday, June 17, was like Christmas in June for many area children. Besides receiving free bikes, and helmets, children that live in the area of Smith Park, which is located on Dorr St, between Forest and Lawrence Ave, had the opportunity to play soccer, and engage in archery, receive free food, and receive their first, college introduction.
Smithfest, which is a combination of Smith, for Smith Park, and Fest, an abbreviation for Festival, was the brainchild of Tyrone Riley, Toledo City Councilman for District One. Started six years ago, Mr. Riley told The Toledo Journal that he grew up in the area, and wanted the children to experience the same fun activities he had, when he was a child.
“Smithfest is about getting the children out in the park, and enjoying themselves,” he said. “It’s all about giving back t the community. But knowing we’re making some many children happy, and helping out parents by giving away bikes, is truly rewarding,” Mr. Riley said.
Larome Myricks, one of the planners of the event, said besides the bikes, and introduction to soccer and archery, the children had the opportunity to see mentors that look like them, doing positive things in the community.
“It’s a powerful message to children seeing people who look like them teaching swimming, giving away food, and bikes, which is a staple of summer time,” Mr. Myricks said.
In addition, Sony Frederickson, professional boxer form Toledo, with an 11-0 record, briefly spoke to the children about staying out of trouble, and getting involved in positive activities.
Kayla Anderson, who was trying to keep up with her excited, eight year old daughter, Martaija Johnson, who was one of the first children to receive a bike, said, “I love this event, and I really appreciate what they’re doing.”
But perhaps no one was as excited, and anticipated Smithfest more than 10 year old, Mehki Anderson. Last year, Mehki did receive a bike but it was the last one and it was a smaller bike with training wheels.
“I’m really happy I got a bike,” he said.