Patterson families attend school bash in new tobacco-free park

08/09/2014 7:30 PM

08/09/2014 11:34 PM

Families poured into downtown Patterson to pick up free children’s books, cheer young dancers and check out the fire engine.

The third annual Patterson Back to School Block Party drew around 3,000 people Saturday, offering kid-friendly fun and community services to kick off the school year, which starts Monday.

“We know that students and families face a variety of challenges that impact our students. We’re here to provide assistance in any way we can so that children are successful in school,” Superintendent Phil Alfano explained. “This event is a celebration of that commitment and the united community effort to support our children.”

Bounce houses beckoned youngsters as the scent of barbecued hot dogs filled the air. Principals and teachers greeted now-taller students and their parents. Dozens of agencies had booths, offering help with getting medical, substance abuse and mental health services. Free fingerprinting was provided by the Polly Klaas Foundation.

Free car seats and safety tips were available courtesy of the California Highway Patrol and the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services made a first-year appearance, helping navigate the process toward becoming a citizen.

The day also was the kickoff for a new, no-tobacco policy for Patterson parks. Workers spray-painted signs on park sidewalks Saturday. The circular stencils said “Healthy Patterson, Healthy Parks” around a crossed-out cigarette.

Patterson High School students with the Protecting Health and Slamming Tobacco youth coalition have picked up more than 6,500 cigarette butts at Patterson parks over the past three years. Their volunteer efforts bolstered the case for proclaiming parks tobacco-free zones outside of parking lot areas.

The Patterson City Council passed the ordinance in July. City leaders praised the policy as a healthy step for the community in speeches Saturday publicizing the change.

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