MONTROSE – It doesn’t get much better if you’re a kid in Montrose than Youth Appreciation Day on Aug. 20.
Events will be held all over town, but the center of activities will be at Baldridge Park, with the Kiddie Carnival, for kids under seven, and Rec Fest, a series of sporting events for older kids.
The Kiddie Carnival aims to get kids involved with hands-on activities, said Tom Thomas, adult program coordinator for the Montrose Recreation District, one of the major sponsors for Youth Appreciation Day. The little kids’ activities will include carnival games, face painting, crafts such as jewelry making, inflatable jump houses and more. It’s being sponsored by the Rec District, Kiwanis Club of Montrose, Grace Community Church, McDonalds, and the Montrose High volleyball team.
With Rec Fest, the emphasis is more on sports competition, with a soccer maze, football throw, field goal kicking, batting cages, golf pitch, basketball free throws, archery, hockey shots, high jumps, speed throws, fly casting and tying, and the Army National Guard climbing wall.
Everything is free at the park, including the food: hot dogs, sodas, popcorn, snow cones and watermelon provided by the Montrose Lions Club.
Aside from the park, there is free admission to activities all over town. Among them are the climbing wall at Montrose High, movies at Fox Theater, swimming at the Aquatic Center, tours of local museums, mini golf at area courses, public safety demonstrations, and solar telescope viewing, to name a few.
Many Montrose businesses are also hosting special events, including an open house at Magic Circle Theater from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. where kids can get free hot dogs, play games, jump in an inflatable house and win door prizes. The Montrose Area Bicycle Alliance will host a Bicycle Rodeo at Cerise Park from noon to 2 p.m., which will include a bike safety talk, bike inspections, helmet fitting and a skills course.
Skaters can also get in the action from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. when the Montrose Association of Commerce and Tourism hosts the Skate Jam, with freestyle events for skateboarders with prizes in all skill levels. Helmets are required and registration starts at 12:30 p.m. at the skate park in Baldridge Park.
A great many organizations are involved in putting on Youth Appreciation Day, Thomas said, which was started by the Montrose Rotary Club back in the 1980s.
“They thought it would be a neat thing to get together and provide free events for kids right before they went tack to school,” he said.
The event began slowly, he said, and in the 1990s the Rec District starting putting on a similar event.
“Around 10 years ago we joined forces … and we’ve been going strong ever since,” he said.
The Rotary kids’ event in the past had been focused more around kids’ games and competition, while the Rec Center activities centered more around sports, he said. Combining the two gave something for everyone.
Since joining forces with Rotary, a committee is formed each year from many local civic clubs to keep Youth Appreciation Day going, Thomas said.
“We get every organization we can think of to try and get involved,” he said. “Sometimes it’s volunteers, sometimes monetary, and sometimes they provide and run an event … it takes a whole lot of people.”
The Rotary Club is a major force behind the kids’ day activities, which is free for all school age kids, said Justin Mashburn, youth coordinator for the Rec District.
“We try to get everything we can, and ask businesses to do it for free,” he said. “We don’t pay businesses to hold an event and everything is completely volunteered,” he said. “The only thing we pay for is hot dogs (and other food treats) for the kids, and that’s funded through Rotary and the Rec District.”
Other activities planned for the day include a Pitch and Putt Challenge at Cobble Creek Golf Course from 3 to 5 p.m. and Mini Golf at Snow Shadows Gymnastics from 2 to 6 p.m. Montrose museums will also have events during the day. The Museum of the Mountain West will give free guided tours of historic buildings between 10 a.m. and noon, and the Ute Indian Museum will offer free museum tours and necklace making from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Montrose County Historical Society Museum will have free admission for kids all day ($1 for adults) and a scavenger hunt. The day will close with an outdoor screening of the movie “Despicable Me” at the Montrose Library.
With its long tradition in Montrose, where hundreds of kids get to have some special fun before school starts, Thomas said he is hoping for another successful year.
“Come on out and have some fun,” he said.