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Love Massena day draws crowd to Alcoa Park

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MASSENA - As he looked out at the crowd that had gathered at Alcoa Field Park on a sunny Saturday afternoon, Donald C. Curry liked what he saw.

“What a great turnout,” said Mr. Curry, the CEO of Compassion North, an organization that worked with the Greater Massena Ministerial Association to bring Saturday’s first-ever Love Massena Day to the community. The event ran from noon to 3 p.m.

Six clowns wandered the grounds with baskets of candy, anxious to hand them out to youngsters as bands filled the air with music.

Several visitors - young and old alike - wore balloon hats that they had created, and some of the youngsters had touches of paint on their face thanks to a face painting station.

“It was a non-stop line at the balloon creation and face painting. They can’t keep up. At 11:30 they were already making balloons,” Mr. Curry said.

Another clown was helping youngsters create soap bubbles that floated into the blue sky.

Thomas Miller was leading a basketball clinic, with instruction or games going on, while Bruce Beckstead helped tennis players hone their skills with games of “volleyball tennis” on the nearby courts.

“It’s better for beginners. They can hit the ball and have fun. They can hit it two or three times on one side to get it over the net,” Mr. Beckstead said.

A special “Lots for Tots” had been set up to offer lightly used children’s clothing for $1, drawing a steady crowd who stocked up on back to school items. Compassion North donated 400 articles of clothing for that booth.

Food was plentiful, including hot dogs, chips, popcorn, snow cones and drinks. Approximately 1,000 hot dogs were handed out during the day, and The Salvation Army of Massena supplied the snow cones, which were in high demand on a warm afternoon.

“The Salvation Army can’t keep up,” Mr. Curry said.

The Massena Police Department had their Humvee on display near a Massena Fire Department truck, while down at the far end of the field were children’s games. Another booth provided information about the upcoming Vacation Bible School, which will be held from Aug. 12-16 at Emmanuel Congregational Church, West Orvis Street.

Artist Marion Bradish also created a 24-foot mural especially for the event. Visitors were invited to paint both sides of the mural which included, among other things, fish, hearts and the phrase “Love Your Neighbor.” Ms. Bradish had done a similar mural in Canton.

Saturday’s event was meant “to do something very positive” in an area that has seen crime ranging from an attempted abduction to drug trafficking, according to Mr. Curry.

Speaking on Monday, two days after the event, he said Love Massena day accomplished its goal.

“I would say it exceeded our expectations. It really did pay off. One of the reasons was the community support. The crowd never let up,” Mr. Curry said.

“The mayor (James F. Hidy), Tim Currier (police chief) and Rich (Boprey, recreation superintendent) really helped us out,” he said, noting that although the event was a joint effort between Compassion North and the Greater Massena Ministerial Association, “there must have been about a hundred volunteers from NTC (New Testament Church).”

Whether the event will be held annually is still to be decided, according to Mr. Curry.

“That is going to be discussed in a couple of weeks. Because of the response it probably will be. We already have some plans to make it better next time,” he said.




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