Tonawanda News

July 18, 2013

NT's youth going for gold during 'Canal Festimpics'

By Jill Keppeler
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Ready. Aim. And ... throw!

One by one, Parker Brenon, 5, hurled beanbags toward the red-and-white-striped target Tuesday, hopping up and down as the projectiles clung, during the second day of the Canal Festimpics at Payne Park in North Tonawanda.

“Whoa, nice throw!” cheered recreation employee Rachel Malone, as Parker successfully hit the “snag” bullseye. “Snag! Good job!”

The event, now in its fourth year, draws hundreds of children from 4 to 16 to the park during Canal Fest week. Alex Domaradzki, youth coordinator at the North Tonawanda Department of Youth, Recreation and Parks, estimated 200 to 250 children were there early Tuesday, slightly less than Monday. They’ll see anywhere from 400 to 500 throughout the week, he said. 

“It’s been good,” he said. “The kids are having fun. We have water for them, and we’ve been trying to set up a lot in the shade.”

The Festimpics succeeded other children’s events that used to take place at the canal during Canal Fest, but were discontinued due to safety concerns, Domaradzki said.

“We just had to come up with something else to do,” he said. “We thought doing it at the park would be a lot more accessible.”

The event started Monday with potato-sack races, a Frisbee toss, obstacle course, bucket ball and long-distance kickball. Events Tuesday included the target toss, a wiffle ball hitters’ challenge, Grizzly Run race, crab walk race and “Rockin’ Rollerama,” in which children rolled balls up a ramp toward a target.

Events move in part to Memorial Pool on Thursday, when the biggest splash contest and underwater swim contest take place, as well as the water-bucket fill-up, pie-eating, super soaker sniper and balloon toss competitions will be held in the park. Events start at noon.

Dominic Jerace, 5, of North Tonawanda, raced from event to event Tuesday with his mother Rina Jerace watching. Jerace praised the parks department for its summer activities, adding that it’s a big help when children start with the usual summer boredom.

“It doesn’t matter. They can have all the toys in the world ... and they’re bored,” she said. “Get them out here and they play with a ball ... and it’s cool.”

The top three competitors in each age group and event won medals. An awards ceremony will also take place Friday at the Gateway Stage at the water, Sweeney Street, North Tonawanda.

With one first-place medal around her neck for winning the Grizzly Run race for her age group, Nina Grobe, 7, also competed in the Rockin’ Rollerama event, hurling a small ball up a ramp at a target with a look of intense concentration on her face.

Grobe earned a third-place medal to go with her first-place one.

“It’s fun,” she said. “I like that I got to play a lot of games today.”

IF YOU GO • WHAT: Canal Festimpics, recreation competitions for children ages 4 to 16 • WHERE: Payne Park, Payne Avenue, North Tonawanda • WHEN: Events begin at noon, no advance registration necessary