EL CENTRO — The Recreational Department of El Centro hosted a “Kids Night Out” event Friday at the Sports Pavilion to celebrate the end of the first week of school and engage children in a fun night with various activities for different age levels.

The theme for the event was centered around back-to-school and began at 5 p.m. with a proclamation from El Centro Mayor Alex Cardenas about the Starts with Arts Foundation and their generosity of providing many El Centro school children with free backpacks.

“We started the ‘Kids Night Out’ event three years ago, and because of the success we have had, we have continued it today,” said Parks and Rec employee Patricia Urena. “And we also decided to have this event themed around back-to-school to coincide with the Starts with Arts Foundation backpack give away.”

Prior to the the introduction by Cardenas and the Starts with Arts Foundation’s give away, children ages 3-12 years old broke up into different groups and began the fun activities.

The craft station for the younger children had instructors assisting with making home decorations of apples. Kids used creativity in coloring their ornament to express individual artistic abilities.

“The younger children created home décor that were shaped as apples, since the school year is associated with this style of décor in the classroom they are in,” said Urena.

For the later craft sessions, the older kids decorated the backpacks they were given, allowing each child to bring their art to life and individualize their backpacks. The younger children also had a chance to decorate their backpacks under the supervision of  trained staff.

In addition to the various art stations around the Pavilion, other staff took children into separate groups to play games. One game consisted of younger children who ran around the complex for a classic game of tag. Other groups used the athletic facilities of the Pavilion for soccer, touch-football, and basketball.

To close out the event, attendees were treated to a nutritious meal while having the opportunity watch an age-appropriate movie or continue to play games.

“The goal of the event is to not only give children a fun place to hang out, but to give parents the chance to have time to themselves while having the peace of mind that their child is well-taken care of,” said Urena.

The “Kids Night Out” will continue with a Halloween-themed event to give kids a chance to wear costumes, a Christmas party to meet and take pictures with Santa Claus, and finally, a tailgate party for Super Bowl.

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