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YSS Celebrate Youth Festival Set Thursday

Local children are invited to enjoy some free summertime fun before the new school year starts during Youth Services System’s Celebrate Youth Festival.

The bash is slated from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday at Wheeling Park’s ice rink.

Celebrate Youth will feature free back-to-school items and free wristbands for activities at the park including swimming, paddle boats and miniature golf. There will also be free inflatables on site.

YSS Special Events Coordinator Holly Fox said this is the first time in two years YSS has held the event in person. It was done drive-through style during the past two years because of COVID-19 concerns.

“As in the past, there will be free park wristbands that will be distributed at the putt-putt golf/boat and pool areas. We’ll also have plenty of free food including hot dogs, DeFelice Bros. pizza, nachos, chips, popcorn and drinks,” Fox said.

“About 50 exhibitors will be set up in the ice-skating rink area, offering school supplies, resources, interactive crafts, games, face painting, and a lollipop tree where kids can win prizes. Bounce houses from Tripp’s Fun Zone will be available near the Amphitheater. We hope to see everyone there.”

Tucker Riggleman, digital media and communications coordinator for YSS, said the event is open to all families and children. YSS service area includes Ohio, Marshall and Belmont counties.

“In years past we have had between 2,000 and 3,000 total guests. We anticipate the same number this year, although folks seem to be really excited that Celebrate Youth is back in-person, so we could see an even larger number,” Riggleman said.

“I think there will be a great sense of relief and hopefully a sense of a return to normalcy. COVID definitely has not gone away, but it isn’t the same as it was over the past couple of years.

“I know a lot of parents and children have reached out to us saying they really missed this event the past two years, even though it did operate in a limited capacity. It’ll be good to have the event fully in-person again.”

Riggleman noted while the event does have a big focus on helping children prepare for going back to school, it also aims to connect families with resources in the community.

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