Tupelo churches, businesses to offer fun for families

By GALEN HOLLEY / NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Tupelo businesses, churches and civic organizations are joining forces to promote a week-long celebration of the American family.
Free skating, bowling and Segway scooter rides, as well as storytelling and arts and crafts, are just some of the activities families can enjoy for free Nov. 8-14 throughout the city.
Members of First Presbyterian Church Tupelo and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have planned six fun-filled days to mark “The Week of the Family,” a community-wide celebration of kinship, wellness and civic involvement.
“We believe that a healthy society depends on raising healthy, happy children, and this is a celebration of that belief,” said Gina Thorderson, director of public relations for the Tupelo Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Thorderson started planning the event last year, and she’s pulled together a wide swath of businesses and public institutions to provide support.
The kickoff will be a Nov. 8 family dinner on the grounds of First Presbyterian Church, with Mayor Jack Reed Jr. as guest. Everyone is encouraged to attend, eat hamburgers and hot dogs and play carnival-style games.
First Presbyterian member Jala Caldwell said her church has hosted a community meal in the fall for several years and this year’s family celebration provided the perfect opportunity to partner with the wider community.
Reed, who attends church at First United Methodist, said that as go families in Northeast Mississippi, so goes the well-being of the community.
“The ripple effects of family life are really what create community life, and I see my role as chief of encouragement for things that build up this city,” said Reed, adding that he’s glad to see Tupelo churches working together for a broader cause.
“The Tupelo way is to be inclusive, and this is a great example,” he said.
Week-long fun
Throughout the week there’ll be plenty of free activities at places like the Lee-Itawamba County Library, Rebelanes, the Rob Leake City Pool, Skatezone, the Link Centre, the Wellness Center and the Tupelo Gymnastics Academy.
A full day of fun is slated for Saturday, Nov. 13, beginning at 10 a.m. at HealthWorks!, including carnival-style games and free access to the Funtastic exhibit floor. Families can enjoy educational, interactive experiences like the Let’s Play Grossology exhibit, which tests knowledge of bodily functions, as well as the Brain Theater and the All About Me exhibit.
Donna Loden, the imaginator of awesome experiences at HealthWorks!, said that in keeping with the mayor’s call to help make Tupelo a healthy city, she and her colleagues are enthusiastic about hosting the morning’s activities.
“We want to infectiously contaminate children of all ages to learn, have fun and make healthy life choices,” said Loden.
In the afternoon the fun shifts to Fairpark where the Tupelo Hog Roasters will prepare free barbecue. Folks can also enjoy a little movin’ and shakin’ from Elvis tribute artist Jack Curtis as well as free Segway scooter rides, a bounce house and a rock wall. Kids will can also take close up looks inside a helicopter, an ambulance and a fire truck.
“Anything we can do help promote family values and fire safety we’re all for it,” said Chief Thomas Walker of the Tupelo Fire Department.
Thorderson of the LDS church said that in the midst of the recession, The Week of the Family is a great way to enjoy some recreation without spending a dime.
Caldwell of First Presbyterian agreed.
“As a working mother of two children I know how hard it is to spend quality time with my children,” she said. “This is a way of letting people know that our churches care about building up the community and that the doors of our congregations are always open.”
Contact Galen Holley at 678-1510 or galen.holley@djournal.com.