Kids First Friday comes back to city for 11th year

Everyone knows that Williamsport’s First Friday events are all about getting members of the community outside to celebrate the city’s vibrant arts and music scene, as well as its other fun downtown attractions. Though most First Friday crowds are usually loaded with more adults than children, once every summer that changes.

For the 11th year in a row, Kids First Friday is coming back to the city this week, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in the mural parking lot between the Bullfrog Brewery and Woodlands Bank, along West Fourth St. The event will see 23 vendors set up with children’s activities, games, prizes and food. It will also feature information on community organizations that could be of benefit to the parents in the crowd.

Kids First Friday is coordinated by the Kiwanis Club of Williamsport, Rotary Club of Williamsport, Williamsport Lions Club and Newberry Lions Club.

“Back when we first started this in 2007, (the clubs) wanted to do something together to help the community, and we didn’t want to compete with each other because we are all helping the same folks,” said Kids First Friday president and co-founder Mike Barclay, of the Williamsport Kiwanis Club. “The Arts Council had started the First Friday program a few years prior to that and we piggybacked off them. The idea was to do something for children that is fun, but also to help the agencies and non-profits that support the children. These are programs that can help families and support people in a tough situation.”

Some of the attractions children at the event will find include a bounce-house, inflatable basketball hoops, balloons, face painting, a city firetruck and the James V. Brown Library Storymobile. There will also be music from the Uptown Music Collective, and food vendors serving up French fries and hamburgers.

“Each of the 23 groups in attendance will have an interactive activity for the children,” Barclay said.

Though the event is coordinated for children, the adults in the crowd should find plenty to keep themselves busy as well, as representatives from the various non-profit organizations in attendance will have literature and information on their respective agencies.

“The parents may find something there and say ‘Hey, this is what we need,'” Barclay said. “The idea is to put these parents and guardians in front of the agencies that might be able to help them.”

Over the event’s history, Barclay said that Kids First Friday routinely draws one of the biggest Frist Friday crowds of the entire summer. That lets him and the other organizers of the event know they are making an impact.

“The community reaction to it has been excellent, it gets really crowded,” he said. “We get like 500 to 1,000 people to it each year, and it gets busy.

“It is an opportunity for people to meet their neighbors, for kids to have fun, and to provide parents with opportunities to learn about the organizations that support their children,” he added. “It is just a fun event.”

While families are already downtown for Kids First Friday, Barclay encourages them to check out all of the other great activities going on in Williamsport as well.

“We just want people to bring the kids and have fun,” he said. “It has been a nice tradition.”