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Published: Wednesday, 6/20/2007

West Toledo fest aims to ramp up area spirit

BLADE STAFF

To unite neighbors and businesses in the West Toledo area, a special community day packed with food, fun, and family activities is on tap at the Kahle Senior Center in Willys Park next month.

Officially called "Bringing the Community Together," the daylong program is expected to draw hundreds of residents from the surrounding neighborhoods.

Organizers are pleased that the community - in particular, area businesses - already are supporting the event that will be held July 7.

Funded in part by the Lucas County Board of Commissioners and UAW Region 2B, "Bringing the Community Together" is hosted by the Kahle Senior Center and will be free and open to the public.

"The whole idea of this event is to get the community members involved, people who live in the area and businesses that do business in the area. We are trying to get everyone to come together," said Russ Simpson, program chairman.

The event, he said, is an entertaining and educational way to bring the community together.

"With some problems [that have occurred] in the north end south end, this will be a beneficial way to show that communities can work together and play together. It's a way to show communities can come together," Mr. Simpson said.

About 1,200 fliers announcing details of the event will be distributed in the community, and Mr. Simpson is trying to get 30 to 40 types of businesses to donate gift cards or gift certificates that can be used for prizes during the daylong event. Names of the donors will be listed on the fliers. The event's budget is about $2,000.

"This is really, truly a community event," he said, praising businesses for their support. He's received great cooperation from residents, he said, and committees have come together to plan and organize the event.

Anyone who wants to stop by is welcome, he said.

"We have so many interesting events that I think it's going to be of interest to other people" than just those in the West Toledo area, said Mr. Simpson, a West Toledo resident. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the center.

"I think it's one of the first such events," said Toledo Councilman Wilma Brown, who is sponsoring a pie-baking contest.

The community event is a way to "get people to understand what goes on in the center and in the park," she said, adding that it is also a way to welcome new residents of the area to the community and to the park.

The event, she said, will help get the message out that Willys Park is alive.

Mr. Simpson, who is on the center's board, said that, during an average week, about 800 people visit the center to attend church, play pool, take ceramics classes, attend scout meetings, or participate in a variety of other programs.

Highlights of the community day include free hot dogs, orange drink, and popcorn for the first 300 people, as well as free pizza samples from noon to 5 p.m., visits by Muddy and Muddonna from the Toledo Mud Hens, a carnival for youngsters, fingerprinting for children, and 20 informational displays in the center.



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