The National Home children and their friends got to run and bounce and play at last Sunday’s UAW Carnival.
United Auto Workers Region 1-D Veterans Council provides the annual event, and many National Home staff members were on hand in the Community Center’s gym to help out with the games and inflatable play pieces.
The games and activities were strictly old-fashioned – bounce houses, tossing stuffed animals into small pouches at the Road Kill Café, a miniature version of the carnival sledgehammer game, and more. The kids had a chance to earn tickets for prizes at many of the games.
Mark Harris is Region 1-D’s SWMI CAP Chair. He was helping the kids out at the Road Kill Café game.
“I look forward to this event all year,” he said. “It’s the most satisfying event I do for the UAW.”
Harris said the union has been putting on the carnival for at least nine years, and that this was his fourth year helping out. He said the carnival’s expenses are paid for completely with money collected from dues.
Harris said the union likes to “help out the community; help out the kids.” Just then, a young girl walked up to the game.
“Go right ahead,” he encouraged her.
She gathered up the stuffed animals and started tossing each one toward one of the pouches cut out of the tall, plastic Road Kill Café sign. At first, it was difficult for her to toss one of the stuffed animals into a pouch. But soon she got the hang of it, and collected her prize tickets.
One little girl was busy running from bounce house to bounce house, crawling in and trying them all out. Her proud father talked about how much she has grown and how hard it is to keep up with her.
One bounce house was colored different shades of greens and had a tropical motif, complete with palm trees. A little boy climbed in, and started bouncing up and down with the other children. Nearby was a small plastic duck pond, and a little girl started splashing her hands in the water and causing the toy ducks to bob up and down.
The “Chicken Dance” could be heard loudly playing, and kids carrying bags of cotton candy and boxes of popcorn contributed to the carnival atmosphere.
All that running and bouncing made the kids hungry for some real food. Hot dogs, chips, cookies, and more were provided in memory of Herb Milbourn. Milbourn, a National Home staff member who passed away in January 2014, was known for his love of children.
“He just enjoyed seeing the kids have fun,” said Traci Gearhart, his daughter.
Gearhart said her workplace, Auto Owners Insurance, came up with providing food as a way of honoring her father.
“He was the best dad in the world,” she said.
Meanwhile, the kids were winding down and the carnival was almost over. Many children had chosen their prizes – Beanie Babies, costume jewelry, small puzzles, yo-yos, and other toys.
The kids and their parents started exiting the Community Center, going out in the cold, and yet warm with fun memories of the day.
To see more pictures from the day, go to our Flickr.