Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive

Kiwanis Kids Day embodies wholesome fun for families

There's nothing like the lure of a shiny, red fire truck to a young boy. The moment that 6-year-old Josh McDow spied the Brooksville Fire Department's big pumper truck parked at Tom Varn Park on Saturday, he knew he wanted to get a closer look.

The youngster was all smiles as he climbed behind the steering wheel and waved to his parents.

"He's been looking forward to this since he got here," said Josh's dad, Harold McDow. "He's planning to be a firefighter when he grows up."

For lots of Hernando County children, the annual Kiwanis Kids Day is always a time for such fun. This year's event drew about 250 participants, who spent the morning playing games, looking at displays and munching on free hot dogs and funnel cakes.

"It seems like a long time since we had a nice weekend," said Brooksville Kiwanis Club president Joe Johnston. "We were expecting a little larger turnout, but I guess people are still busy cleaning up after the storm."

The event, sponsored each year by the Brooksville Kiwanis Club and the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, offered plenty of activities for children, including a Hula Hoop contest, sprint races and even a greased flagpole with a $20 bill taped to the top for anyone skilled enough to reach it.

Hernando High senior Krista Thomas and fellow school Key Club members Jessica Kinner and Megan Shabosky spent the morning manning a fishing booth and handing out strings of colored beads and candy to participants.

"We've been really busy, even busier than the hot dog guys," said the 17-year-old. "Kids just like the beads better."

Across the way, members of the sheriff's dog unit put on a live demonstration that had an enthralled audience cheering.

By late morning, Sheri Cassidy and her children, Mike, 8, and Katrina, 6, decided to take a brief respite to enjoy funnel cake and soft drinks beneath a shady oak tree.

"I think it's great that they do this for the kids," Cassidy said. "They get a chance to talk to police officers and firefighters and get to know them. They're the people who are going to help them if they need it."

Johnston, whose volunteer crew of about 15 Kiwanis members cooked and served about 300 hot dogs to visitors, said he looks forward to the event every year.

"It's a way to give something back to the community," Johnston said. "Seeing parents and kids out having a little family fun is what this is all about."

Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or