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More Than 1,000 Children Attend YSS Celebrate Youth Festival in Wheeling

photo by: Shelley Hanson

Zach Dwyer, 2, of Wheeling visits with a radio-controlled school bus during Youth Service System’s Celebrate Youth event at Wheeling Park on Thursday.

WHEELING – Local children enjoyed free food, swimming, inflatables, school supplies and more during Youth Service System’s Celebrate Youth event Thursday at Wheeling Park.

It was the first year for the event to be held in person following a two-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just a couple hours into the event, Tucker Riggleman, digital media and communications coordinator for YSS, said at least 1,000 children had already arrived. People had started lining up to get in as early as 8 a.m.

Each child was given a sling-style backpack to fill up with school supplies and other items handed out by vendors at the park’s ice rink. There, they could also get free hot dogs, face painting and more before heading outside to take advantage of swimming, miniature golf, paddle boats and inflatables.

Linda Scott, superintendent of YSS’ Ronald C. Mulholland Juvenile Center, said she was amazed by the number of people who showed up since the past two events were drive-through only due to the pandemic.

“The community helps YSS and we like to give back to the community,” Scott said. “Everything is free. This is a lot of hard work. We planned it a lot quicker this year than we have in the past. Since most of us have been here for a number of years it just gets easier. Nobody forgot.”

Scott noted having everyone enjoy the park activities in person was missed the last two years.

“The people who were used to doing it missed it. … The people who couldn’t go on vacation, this is kind of a vacation. … It’s also good for the vendors to get their information out, too,” she said.

Wheeling resident Subrinia Brisco brought her children, who were enjoying making giant soap bubbles, to the event for the first time since moving to the city from Virginia.

“We wanted to get involved with the community and let the kids have fun,” she said. “We wanted to let them have fun before going back to school.”

Julia Sheets of Wheeling brought her friend Ashlie Kotson’s children – Mason, Maddox and Anslie Kotson – to the event so they could have fun and get some school supplies.

“The kids are enjoying it. Their mom had to work today,” she said.

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