Sixteen years ago Margo Johnson and MGH Chelsea administrative director Jeanette McWilliams launched the MGH Chelsea Family Summer Safety Fair.
Between 250 and 300 people attended the first annual fair in the MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center parking lot. Attendance has grown steadily each year, peaking at 650 people at the 2012 fair and making it one of the most popular family events in the city.
“We focus on the age group of 4 to 16 years old and we do that because there is a Massachusetts law that you have to wear a helmet while on wheels,” said Johnson.
The 16th Annual MGH Safety Fair will be held on Saturday, June 15, from noon to 3 p.m., at the MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center, 151 Everett Avenue.
The MGH Safety Fair committee, led by Margo Johnson, will be distributing free bicycle helmets to children while there will also be a free bicycle raffle. Children have to proceed through different stations in order to receive a free helmet and be eligible for the drawing.
In addition to the free helmets, children can participate in hula hoop, jump rope, and zumba contests, bike helmet decorating, and enjoy a visit with the popular McGruff the Crime Dog. Children can enjoy free slush, bottled water and other refreshments. DJ Shorty will provide the musical entertainment.
The Masons, a group that includes Chamber of Commerce president Arthur Arsenault, will operate a Child Identification Program in coordination with the Chelsea Police Department.
“The Masons have been fabulous in their cooperation with our event every year,” said Johnson.
The Chelsea Fire Department will conduct a smokehouse demonstration. The Chelsea Collaborative, Chelsea Connection, and the REACH Program will also host stations at the event.
“The goal of this event is to educate kids and parents about home, fire, bicycle, and automobile safety tips,” said Johnson.
The committee has been working hard for months in organization, planning, and publicizing the fair. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary Bourque supports the event and allows the committee to distribute 5,000 flyers to Chelsea schoolchildren.
Why has the MGH Chelsea Safety Fair become of the city’s most popular and anticipated events, right up with the annual Family Literacy Fair at the Chelsea Public Library and the Chamber of Commerce’s Breakfast with Santa?
“I think with the schools’ involvement and the committee’s [public relations] efforts, we attract people from not only Chelsea, but East Boston, Everett, and Revere and people look forward to this fun event and they can learn a lot about safety,” said committee member Debby Valdes.
Committee member Susan Thomas said the free event is “a nice day out for the children and the parents.”
“They spend the day here learning about safety and there are a lot of free things and a lot of knowledge and the kids enjoy it with the music and the different activities,” said Thomas.
Committee member Jane Jordan says the looks on the children’s faces at the fair are priceless.
“I just love watching the looks on those kids’ faces, especially at the free book table,” said Jordan. “They are having so much fun. When we’re getting near the end of the fair and they’re all doing the hula hooping and the dancing, which they’re so good at it – just seeing their smiles, I just think this event is so nice for the kids. And it’s a kickoff to the summer for them and they’re getting educated about safety and what they should be doing when they’re riding their bicycles.”
Of course, the committee is counting on Mother Nature to provide some beautiful weather for the outdoor event, though there will be tents set up just in case of some rain.