Carnival kicks off summer vacation for Kalamazoo youth

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KALAMAZOO, MI – All ages in the Kalamazoo community came together to celebrate the start of summer with the Summer Kickoff Carnival coordinated by Kzoo Parks at Upjohn Park on Friday, June 10.

Long lines stretched around the park and hundreds of people came for the local games, rides and food trucks. Friday was the last day of school for Kalamazoo Public Schools.

Sandra Beverly brought her grandchildren from Greenwood Elementary to the event and spent time watching them scale the rock face provided by Vertical Edge.

“I’m still worried about the COVID stuff, but I’m excited for them to come out and do new things that they’ve never done before,” Beverly said.

Beverly also said her grandchildren never got to go to a carnival, which made the “Dixie Twister” zipline and three-lane inflatable bungee run also provided by Vertical Edge even more exciting.

Many vendors sat in tents that lined the sidewalks, handing out cool supplies and treats while teaching important lessons to young people.

“There is such a diverse population around Kalamazoo and it’s a great place to promote our safety programs to children and adults,” said Alessandra Valley of Prevention Works.

Prevention Works has taught how dangerous it can be to get around drunk by providing kids with drunk glasses and an obstacle course to complete. Other tents offered small games to win prizes as well as information leaflets about their organization.

Along with more than 10 table vendors, three food trucks, and volunteers from Vertical Edge, the Western Michigan University football team, KDPS Explorers, and Jeter’s Leaders, Kzoo Parks Special Event Coordinator Kya Mitchell, had a lot to do as she ran all around the park to make sure everyone was enjoying their time and the event went off without a hitch.

“People are ready to go out and come back to these community events that bring people together,” Mitchell said.

And, most surprisingly for all, the event was free for the community. Katie Easton wanted to do something outside to celebrate the end of the school year with her child Cash.

“It looks like a real collective effort; it’s a very interesting thing, especially to provide for free,” Easton said.

This is just the start of summer events that will be popping up, such as the Kalamazoo Park Summer Cinema and Lunchtime Live! presented by Lake Michigan Credit Union.

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