‘Longest Day of Play’ draws a crowd to Juniper Hill

Berran Stode, 4, jumps off an inflatable at the Longest Day of Play on June 21, 2018. The event was at Juniper Hill Park. (Photo by McKenna Horsley)

Local kids will have a chance to stay outside and have fun a little later than usual because of the "Longest Day of Play" next week.

The annual event is hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Frankfort. Longest Day of Play is free and begins at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 20, at Juniper Hill Park. The first 600 people to the event will receive arm bands for a splash party at the Juniper Hill Aquatic Center starting at 7:30 p.m.

Marchele Jenkins, president-elect of Kiwanis Club, said that the Longest Day of Play is typically held on the longest day of the year, which is June 21, but the aquatic center was already booked.

Jenkins said Kiwanis is expecting about 1,200 attendees at this year's event. Over 25 vendors have signed up to host an activity. Jenkins said vendors are not charged a fee but must bring something that encourages play time. Activities include dancing, bubbles, frisbee golf, obstacle courses and more, according to the Facebook event. Food such as hot dogs and water will also be provided.

Longest Day of Play was held by the Franklin County Health Department until about three years ago. Jenkins was in a meeting when she heard that the department was planning to not host it again and immediately volunteered Kiwanis. She then told the rest of Kiwanis members about the news and they were glad to host the event, she said. Kiwanis is about helping children and the organization was in need of a signature event, so Longest Day of Play was a perfect fit.

When parents and kids first get to the park, they must register in order to have the chance of getting a wristband for the splash party, a raffle ticket and other goodies, Jenkins said. The raffle includes prizes such as bicycles, she said. Wristbands for the pool are given to both kids and adults, as children under 16 years old must be accompanied by an adult in the aquatic center.

The Longest Day of Play is an community event filled with "good will," Jenkins said. It provides Frankfort and Franklin County families will a chance to put stresses aside and have fun together.

"It's a time to encourage families to come out and play with their children," Jenkins said of the Longest Day of Play.

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