2012-09-13 / News

Jamestown Day at Fort Getty Saturday

Alcohol-free event is a way to support local teenagers
BY KEN SHANE

The unofficial end of summer that came with the Labor Day weekend does not mean the end of outdoor celebrations in Jamestown. This year’s edition of Jamestown Day will take place at the Fort Getty pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 15, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. (The rain date is the following Saturday.)

Jamestown Day is an alcoholand drug-free event that serves as a membership drive and fundraising opportunity for Friends of Jamestown Youth. The organization develops programs that are geared toward teens, encouraging healthy communication and lifestyle choices. Admission is $5, free for children under 6.

According to Arlene Petit, president of Friends of Jamestown Youth, the purpose of the group is to give teenagers a safe place to be, and to give them safe things to do. When teenagers become members of the group they sign a contract that commits them to remaining drug and alcohol free. Petit said that Jamestown Day is a way to support local teenagers. She added that the people who attend are interested in the local teens and what they’re doing. A lot of them are family members.

“It brings the parents and the children together,” Petit said. “There will be lots of things for them to do. They’re going to have a good time. There’s some good food. It opens the eyes of the parents to the teenage community and how they interact. It’s like a big old-fashioned family picnic. The importance of it is to bring the community together.”

This year’s family-oriented festivities will include volleyball, where there is new sand in the court. Those who want to exercise their throwing arm might want to try their hand at the dunk tank. And there will be a bounce house for those who like the ups and downs. The traditional potato-sack race and the cakewalk are always popular, and some may enjoy eating their dessert while testing their eye-mouth coordination with the donut-on-a-string attraction.

The Conanicut Cup will be contested again this year. Teenagers have been building their own mini-sailboats, and on Jamestown Day they will attempt to maneuver around the marks that have been set. The miniature sailboats can be purchased for $5 at the teen center to show support for the sailors. There are cash prizes available for the winners of the race, which is sponsored by Dr. Leon Goldstein.

Entertainment for Jamestown Day will be provided by the Jamestown Community Band and the Jamestown Community Chorus. The day will be topped off by a bonfire. Recreation Director Bill Piva will set up the fire with the help of his staff on the hilltop at 8:30 p.m. Food and drinks from Freddie’s House of Pizza will be sold in the pavilion.

“It’s a family day,” Petit said. “We encourage all ages and any community member to attend.”

Molly Conlon is the coordinator at the Jamestown Teen Center. A group from the teen center will help out on Jamestown Day. Some volunteers will man the dunk tank and the bounce house, while others will sell food and facilitate the carnival games.

“It’s a fun event because a lot of the teens go to it,” Conlon said. “There are a bunch of families there, and it gets them involved in the community.”

There is a common misconception that the teen center is only for certain types of teenager. While she has heard those sentiments expressed, Conlon is quick to point out that it is not the case. She said that the teen center provides a safe environment for every teenager.

“It’s for all sorts of kids, whether they’re an athlete, or they just want to come here and play video games, or to hang out with their friends,” Conlon said. “It’s not for one particular type of teen. There is always staff here supervising them.”

The start of the new school year means that programs at the center will also be starting. Dodgeball begins for middle school students next week, and the Adolescents Making Programs for Teens – a group of teens that plan activities for the larger group – also begins soon. On Friday, a group from the teen center will attend the first home football game of the season at North Kingstown High School.

The new teen center schedule will see middle school students coming on Mondays and Wednesdays, and high school students on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 2 to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays are reserved for students in seventh grade and above from 2 to 9 p.m.

Now that the school year has started, Petit said that she is looking forward to more participation from the teenagers in the community. “It’s a tough age, and there’s a lot of peer pressure,” she said. “If your friends aren’t there, then you’re not there. So we’re really looking to encourage more participation.”

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