Safety in numbers

Big turnout for Caldwell Schools Safety Fair
Apr. 21, 2013 @ 08:00 AM

Wherever there’s a robotic Frisbee shooter, Smokey the Bear and first aid for zombies at one venue, there's bound to be a crowd.

That’s exactly what took place during the Caldwell County Schools PTA/PTO Safety Fair, held Saturday at the fairgrounds. Easily more than a thousand folks, some who braved the chilly morning air to line up at 7:45 a.m., turned out for the biennial event, this year being the fourth. The idea is to highlight safety in schools, homes, and throughout the community through demonstrations, displays and fun activities. The free popcorn didn’t hurt either.

“This was advertised so well, we wanted to come,” said Elaine Harmon, who showed up with her 6-year-old son Reuben in tow. “My children enjoy the water. I was interested in what they had for water safety.”

Rueben enjoyed having his fingerprints lifted by the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office for an identification database.

More than 80 vendors packed the main building, including Quest4Life Wellness Center, area law enforcement and emergency agencies, and Caldwell County schools, whose main focus this year was on bullying prevention.

Schools have always been the conversation starter for bullying,” said Caldwell Schools Superintendent Steve Stone. “This is a great opportunity to educate. For parents, it’s good to see the resources we have in Caldwell County, and learn safety of all kinds. We’re overwhelmed with the community response.”

School officials greeted the guests as they walked in. The first 250 entrants received free backpacks filled with flashlights, whistles, toothbrushes and first aid kits. Which may explain the long line before the fair opened at 10 a.m.

“We got here at 8:30,” said Tabitha West, who brought her four children. “It’s really good for the kids, like learning how to be safe during a fire.”

Daughter Kylie, 5, just wanted to take Smokey the Bear home with her.

Outside the main hall, visitors were fascinated by the life flight helicopter, the Lenoir Police Department’s SWAT vehicle, and other emergency vehicles. Scout troops also made a splash at the fair, with cool things such as a bottle rocket launcher. Not the explosive kind, but empty 20-ounce soda bottles filled with compressed air that was suddenly released, sending the bottles drag-strip style down a track suspended from a wire. South Caldwell High School trotted out a robotic Frisbee shooter, designed by students and with funding from Google.

By 1 p.m., the displays were coming down and people filed out of the fairgrounds, armed with brochures, backpacks and safety tips.

“We’ve learned a lot of things, and it’s been fun,” West said.

Sadly for Kylie, Smokey had to stay.