Moura Steinberg, Correspondentredlandsdailyfacts.com
Posted: 03/24/2012 01:09:53 PM PDT
2nd Annual Olive Avenue Market's Young Children's Celebration
When: Sat. March 31 from 10:30 a.m. to 4 :30 p.m.
Where: Olive Avenue Market is at 530 West Olive Avenue in Redlands
For more information go to oliveavenuemarket.com
On Saturday, the celebration of young children will return to the Olive Avenue Market with a free day-long event.
Organizers say that this year the 2nd Annual Olive Avenue Market's Young Children's Celebration is much larger than last year, but it is nothing like when this celebration was held on State Street more than a decade ago.
"It was a huge event," said Amber Wallick, co-owner of the market and organizer of this Saturday's event. She remembers the many booths and large crowds in downtown Redlands.
"We are trying to bring back that spirit," Wallick said, "the spirit of caring for the well-being of our youngest children."
The local celebration honors a nationwide The Week of the Young Child, an annual event of more than 40 years with a focus on the needs of young children and their families.
Wallick said that they also hope to recognize early childhood programs and the educators involved with these programs.
"It was my desire to recognize and appreciate our children, and the people who care for them," said Wallick, who is an adjunct faculty member at San Bernardino Valley College, teaching in the Child Development Department.
"People that get the least recognition, are teaching our youngest children," she said, with less pay, usually no benefits and the least amount of funding to help educate children.
More than 25 guest readers will sit down, pick up a book and read to the children on Saturday.
"They will be reading really good books, with good stories," Wallick said, who personally chose many of the books that will be read.
There's one book she didn't choose, "Oh the Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss.
The mayor is reading that book at 11 a.m. and he plans to bring his own copy.
"It's a great book, a wonderful book to start our event," said Wallick.
Other readers during the day include ballerinas, jugglers, weavers, football players and there will be a special area for children to read to dogs.
"We are planning on sending Engine 261 for the first couple of hours, and replacing it with (Ladder) Truck 261 for the later half," said Jim Topoleski, battalion chief with the Redlands Fire Department, adding that emergency responses might change these plans.
But when the big equipment rolls up at the event, the firefighters are prepared to read to the children.
"The Redlands Fire Department is highly engaged in the community and events that support our youth," said Topoleski.
"Largely because of the role model image firefighters have, it has always been our position to soften our mystique by reaching out to our youth and demonstrating the importance of reading," he said.
"Our existence is because of the community," said Topoleski. "The future of our community lies within our youth, and if we can reach just one child and give him or her a positive influence toward reading then this outreach is a success."
Having a positive influence in the community was one of the reasons that Sunny Wallick - the mother of Amber - helped organize the first Young Children's Celebration back in the 1990s.
"I brought it to town," said Sunny Wallick, "We closed down State Street. It was a riot."
Sunny Wallick, 78, remembers the crowds of people, the music and all the work involved in putting on such a large event.
"We couldn't have done it without the Kiwanis," she said, adding that they helped with the organization of the event, the money, and the cleanup.
"When you have a lot of kids out there, you will have a lot of clean-up," she said with a laugh.
She was pleased with her daughter's first attempt last year to revive the children's celebration in Redlands.
"It was bigger than I thought it would be, but it will be nothing like this year's."
After hearing about this year's line-up of activities and readers, she feels that as more people get involved, it will continue to grow.
"I'm glad to see this return, it blows my mind," said Sunny Wallick, who still lives in Redlands.
She plans to attend on Saturday and she would like to see one activity return from the past.
"We would put out globs of shaving cream on a big long table, turn on the music and let the kids play," Wallick explained. "It's a sensory experience for children that is so needed."
She said that this kind of experience should be more available than ever as early childhood programs are pressured to become more academic. But most of all, children need to play as they just don't play like they used to play.
"I'm glad that this is happening again," she said. "It will be great to relive those memories and be a child for a day."
Moura Steinberg is a member of the Friends of the A.K. Smiley Public Library. The Friends will have gently used children's books for sale at the event.