HARWICH – If there's one thing most people agree on, it's that after a year of social isolation, the time is right to get out and have some fun.
Doing that, albeit within health and safety protocols, is one of the aims of the Family Fun Fair, a free drive-by event being held at Monomoy Regional High School on Saturday, April 10, from 10 a.m. to noon.
“It's been a really tough year for parents with young children,” said Lucy Gilmore, Monomoy Family Resource Coordinator and an early learning specialist with the Cape Cod Children's Place, which is coordinating the event with dozens of community partners. While the agency and others like it pivoted to virtual programs, with the Chatham and Harwich funds of the Cape Cod Foundation providing take-home kits for families, the loss of in-person contact has been difficult. But things are starting to change.
“We're moving in the right direction,” Gilmore said, with programs that allow social distancing – such as a little tykes yoga, which can be done outdoors, and outdoor art programs for children and caregivers – slowly coming back. But the time is not yet right for some of the most popular programs, such as those held on playgrounds. “We just can't do it yet. There's no way to keep it sanitized,” she said.
The Fun Fair usually involves different agencies and activities happening in a large gymnasium, providing parents with an opportunity to learn about child and family and summer camp programs and the like and allowing kids to engage in various fun activities. This year organizations will be set up at tables outside, and families will slowly drive through collecting handouts and goodies for the kids.
“We have all sorts of activities and free books,” said Gilmore, as well as health snacks and raffles. More importantly will be the dozens of organizations providing information on vital services such as food security. Cape Kids Meal, which provides free weekend meals to students, will provide families with lists of local food pantries and their hours.
“That will be a really great resource,” Gilmore said. “That's what I've seen on the top of the list, food insecurity.”
While the purpose is serious, the event is designed to fun. “It's just a really fun way to collaborate,” she said. “And we get to see each other and connect.”
While the Children's Place works mostly with families with kids age birth to 8, the fair will be “a whole family event,” Gilmore said. “Families with older children are more than welcome.”
To add to the fun, the Toe Jam Puppet Band will perform a live virtual concert at 4 p.m. on the Cape Cod Children's Place's Facebook page. Sponsored by the Orleans Cultural Council, the concert was supposed to happen at last year's Fun Fair but was canceled due to the shutdown.
The event also marks the kick-off of the National Association for the Education of Young Children-sponsored Week of the Young Child, marking its 50th anniversary this year.
The Cape Cod Children's Place, which serves the Outer and Mid Cape region from its base in North Eastham, is coordinating the event, which is presented by the Cape Cod 11-town Early Childhood Council. The group includes representatives from Barnstable to Provincetown and meets quarterly to share information. Other sponsors include the Children's Trust, Harwich Children's Fund, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Department of Early Education and Care.
Among the organizations scheduled to participate in the fair are the Harwich Police Department; Harwich Children's Fund; Cape Cod Theatre Company/Harwich Junior Theatre; Monomoy High School; Monomoy Early Childhood Council; Dennis-Yarmouth Coordinated Family and Community Engagement; Brooks Free Library; Eldredge Public Library, Independence House; Homeless Prevention Council; Community Health Center of Cape Cod; Cape Cod Health Imperatives, Healthy Families; Lower and Outer Cape WIC; Early Intervention; Food for Kids; Spaulding Rehabilitation, Orleans; Cape Kids Meals; MSPCA; Chatham Recreation Department; and the Dot to Dot Workshop.
Local businesses donating raffle prizes include Ducks in the Window; Dr. Gravity; Chatham Candy Manor; Where the Sidewalk Ends Bookstore; Chatham Clothing Bar/Chatham Kids; Ben Franklin; Sea Howl Bookshop; Mary Wilson's Pitter Patter Puppets; DY CFCE; and the Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch.
The event will be held rain or shine. “We'll have our umbrellas and still be able to make it happen in the rain,” Gilmore said. “We're looking forward to a great celebration.”