Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes could hardly contain her enthusiasm during the City Council meeting Monday night.
“Overall, the Party in the Park was a huge success,” she said. “It blew my expectations out of the water.”
She was referring to the second-annual city-sponsored celebration that took place all day Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park. The event sprung from city wanting to bring back the idea of a community-wide festival to the park while saying thank you to local residents.
Even though the heat of summer had finally arrived, all the day’s activities had good participation, Hayes said, adding most did better than last year. The agenda included activities for athletes, families, pet owners, and car and music lovers.
A fireworks display over Vets Lake put an exclamation point on the festivities.
Hayes rattled off these statistics:
• The day started with the Tuff Enuff Mud/Obstacle Run sponsored in part by Club 1 Fitness with all the proceeds going to the Great Bend High School Student Council. The 277 runners slogged and climbed their way through and over 11 obstacles.
Last year, Hayes said there were 87 participants.
• Next, the Ooze Fest Mud Volleyball Tournament got started. There were 19 teams this time, up from 17.
Hayes said the tourney drew teams from Wichita, Hutchinson and as far away as Manhattan. This provide for a lot of sloppy action in the mud pits.
• The Golden Belt Humane Society adopted out seven dogs, making this one of its most successful pet adoption events. The society also sold food to party attendees.
• The numbers for the chocolate cream pie eating contest were a little lower than they were for the Oreo eating contest last year, but Hayes said that didn’t dampen the atmosphere. There were four in the 17-and-younger category, six in the 18-and-over and there were two couples in the couples class.
Hayes said Oreos may return next year, or there might be something different.
• Twenty five budding artists worked on the community mural. This was sort of a paint-by-numbers work created by Rebecca Dawson that anyone could help color.
It didn’t get finished and will be brought to another city event in the future. The mural will hang in vacant store windows when completed.
• With 98 classic cars, car show organizers ran out of room and had to rearrange things to accommodate the extra vehicles.
• Other activities, such as the caricature drawing, Optimist Club Fun Zone (with inflatable bounce houses) and the Big Brothers Big Sisters pig feed also drew large crowds. The Masonic Lodge was selling funnel cakes and ran out.
• The concert featuring Ricky Fugit, King Midas and the Mufflers and Curtis Grimes attracted nearly 300 attendees, Hayes said. This was also up from last year.
Party in the Park is designed for local residents, but Hayes said they saw cars from 15 different counties. Also, restaurants reported booming business Saturday, with at least one running out of several menu items.
“There were a lot of people there at different times,” City Administrator Howard Partington said. “There was something for everyone.”
City officials and employees spent much of the day taking part in or helping with the party, and Partington thanked them for their efforts. “It was the best camaraderie and participation of city employees I’ve seen in a long time.”
Hayes echoed this sentiment. “The city staff was beyond awesome.”