Kids Day returned to Maricopa Wells Middle School for its 15th year with many activities on Saturday.
Kids got a closeup view of a rescue helicopter, got to pet animals and even take pictures with firefighting hotshots, including Smokey the Bear.
Kids Day takes place on the third Saturday of September. The event started in 2007. It was virtual in 2020 and 2021, but this year directors John Donohue and May McCarthey brought it back in person.
“It’s not the same (virtual), you need to have that interactive (experience),” McCarthey said.
Pinal County Sheriff’s Office brought a search-and-rescue helicopter. Maricopa Police Department brought the police dog, K9 Karma. South Western Pediatrics brought a dunk tank. 4-H Club offered a petting zoo.
With sponsors that include the Gud Ark Sanctuary, AJ Reptiles and Phoenix Herpetological, kids even got to pet more unique animals, including snakes, tortoises and even a porcupine.
Alongside the animals, kids could meet and take pictures with Smokey the Bear, Scoopie from Culver’s, and multiple movie characters.
Attendees included Mayor Nancy Smith, City Manager Rick Horst, Councilmember Rich Vitiello, Councilmember Henry Wade, Pastor Jim Shoaf and Maricopa Unified School District Superintendent Tracey Lopeman attended and gave speeches.
The mayor expressed how big Kids Day is for the city.
“Fifteen years, that’s almost as long as the city had been incorporated,” Smith said.
Lopeman expressed the value of community outreach.
“It’s all about the kids,” Lopeman said.
This was not Shoaf’s first time attending, but since he started about six years ago, he said he cannot stop.
“I love it, I love dealing with the kids, and I love meeting all of the new people,” Shoaf said.
This year, despite challenges thrown their way, Donohue and McCarthey managed to pull off the event, and emphasized that they would not have been able to do it without their sponsors. They faced some last–second hurdles, and were aided by local businesses, McCarthey explained.
“We have been here for 17 years” McCarthey said. “We come together, and take care of one another.”
See a photo gallery of the event below: