Sixth annual Safety Day at the mall

Paxton Bolion-Hudnall, right, 7, of Belpre, tries the fatal vision goggles demonstration Saturday with Deputy Hannah Tornes, left, of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. WAYNE TOWNER Special to the Times

VIENNA — Hundreds of area families gathered at the Grand Central Mall in Vienna on Saturday for the sixth annual Safety Day program, learning a variety of safety lessons important for children and adults.

About 20 local safety organizations from throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley participated in the event, providing information and lessons about fire safety, car safety, pedestrian safety and many others through hands-on educational demonstrations.

The family-friendly event – sponsored by Memorial Health System and The Parkersburg News and Sentinel – featured indoor and outdoor activities, including appearances by Smokey Bear and Sparky Dog, D.A.R.E., Safety Town, first aid and CPR demonstrations, Fatal Vision Goggles, safe sleep, childproofing, fire extinguisher simulators, children’s activities and more.

Car seat safety checks and emergency vehicle tours were held in the mall’s north parking lot, between Belk and Sears.

The mall was filled with families and children of all ages, many wearing blue, pink or red plastic firefighter helmets with bags of free safety-related materials and giveaways.

Elizabeth Goins, of Marietta, was attending Saturday’s event for the first time with her daughter and two nieces.

“It’s nice and they’ve had fun,” she said.

Trinity Bills, of Williamstown, and daughters Hayden, 7, and Kimber, 4, were learning about things like proper use of a fire extinguisher and other safety lessons at stations set up along the mall’s concourse.

“It’s nice that they have it set up so you can learn about different things and the kids can actually learn from the professionals,” Bills said, adding this was the second year the family attended Safety Day.

Amy Arnold, of Parkersburg, with her sons, Kent, 7, and Drew, 2, were also enjoying the experience.

“It’s an excellent program for kids to get out in the community and experience what some of the options are in regard to 911 and firefighters and not to be scared of those options,” Arnold said.

The participating agencies included American Red Cross, AmeriCorps, Boys and Girls Club of Parkersburg, Marietta Fire Department, Marietta Memorial Health System, Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department Tobacco, Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department Threat Preparedness Unit, Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Highway Safety Program, Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Department, Ohio Division of State Fire Marshal Fire Prevention Bureau, Parkersburg Fire Department, Parkersburg Police Department, Vienna Police Department, Vienna Volunteer Fire Department, Warren Township Volunteer Fire Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Wood County 911, Wood County Sheriff’s Office, WV Birth to Three and West Virginia Division of Forestry.

“This is our sixth annual event and it has a great reputation and people really look forward to it every year,” said Katrina Stephens, marketing director at Grand Central Mall, adding people started lining up a half-hour before the noon start time Saturday.

One new addition to this year’s event was the Boys and Girls Club of Parkersburg. The mall opened one of its vacant storefronts which provided space for the club to set up a miniature version of its Safetytown program, set up a photo booth and give a presentation on internet safety.

Club director Ben Shuman said mall officials invited the Boys and Girls Club to bring its Safetytown program and other activities to the mall for Safety Day.

“We thought it was a great idea,” he said.

“We’ve had a packed room the whole day,” Shuman said of the public response during Saturday’s program, adding the Boys and Girls Club would like to return in the future for Safety Day.

“We want to thank all of the organizations that participate in this event year in and year out,” Stephens said.

“Without them doing what they do, this event would not be successful. We’re just really glad that we can provide that platform for them,” she said.