Substance-free fun gets families in the mood for fall

The Center for Youth and Community Development hosted its second Family Friday Fall & Farm Fun event Saturday.

Substance-free fun gets families in the mood for fall
Gabriella Martinez smiles as she gets her face painted during the Center for Youth and Community Development's family event Saturday evening at the Gettysburg Recreation Park.

Gabriella Martinez, 5, from Aspers, sits patiently while a volunteer dabs her nose, forehead and cheeks with white face paint. She'll be getting black lines and a glitter finish next to turn her into a skeleton with sparkle. The smile on her face proves she's excited and having fun.

That's exactly the kind of scene Gettysburg nonprofit Center for Youth and Community Development (CFYCD) hoped for at its second Family Friday Fall & Farm Fun event held Saturday at the Gettysburg Recreation Park. The event provided a substance free night for Adams County families to come and enjoy classic fall activities.

"The event is important because it is substance free," said Samiah Slusser, associate director at CFYCD, the parent organization that operates the community coalition Collaborating for Youth. "We want to give families the opportunity to come to a safe event."

The first family night occurred in June 2021. It was the "product of years of thinking and wanting" to offer a substance free community event. A grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration allowed the organization to make the idea a reality last year.

Community organizations attended the event with booths displaying free goods,  . Forever Love Rescue offered kids the chance to adopt stuffed animals. About an hour into the event, the organization had already given away four totes of toys with roughly 150 toys in each tote, said Stephanie Baum, director of Forever Love Rescue.

Isaac Smith, 10, of Gettysburg, stood at the table set up by Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve feeling animal pelts and studying the hissing cockroaches displayed in a plastic tank. It was one of his favorite activities of the night, he said.

The highlight of the night was a pie eating contest, which featured seven contestants representing different community organizations. Maia Niedererr, from the CFY Youth Coalition, took first prize with her pumpkin pies.

Long lines wound through the pavilion as attendees picked out free food. Corn on the cob appeared to be most popular, along with hot dogs, Sloppy Joes and hot chocolate.

Sam Kutchins, Kim Malkin and Kim Hannon, all employees of CFYCD, took a break in between their volunteer duties to eat dinner. In between bites of corn, Hannon summed up the night.

"It's a wonderful family event. The kids are having an awesome time."