WILKES-BARRE – A bicycle helmet giveaway at Kirby Park on Wednesday brought a spirit of both celebration and safety to Fourth of July festivities.
For the 11th consecutive year, children 12 and under were given free bicycle helmets as a result of the efforts of the Hourigan, Kluger & Quinn Foundation for Children’s Advocacy, also known as HKQ Kids, and administered by the Luzerne Foundation.
Louise Newman of Larksville brought her grandsons, ages 8, 6 and 3, over to the park early in the day, especially to get the helmets.
Newman said the boys enjoyed choosing from blue, red and silver helmets, and for the chance to grab some balloons and an HKQ bag.
“We come out every year,” she said. “The kids beat the helmets up and their heads grow.”
Sue Greenfield, event organizer and office manager, said each child receives a helmet fitted for his or her head.
Younger children sometimes get uncomfortable when being fitted for a helmet, she said, and that’s where the balloons come in.
“We have the balloons every year,” she said. “It calms children down and adds to the event.”
Greenfield not only coordinates the event, but takes time each year, with about 40 other employees to ensure the event is a success.
In spite of the heat, Greenfield and other volunteers, took time to fit the children with helmets and to provide a word of encouragement to families.
Other employees volunteered their time earlier in the week to prepare for the event.
Greenfield said this year a sizable line had formed even before the giveaway started at 11 a.m.
“We’re committed to giving back to the community,” she said. “And helmets are the law.”
Greenfield said to many families the annual giveaway has become a holiday tradition.
“They put it on their calendar,” she said. “The children really look forward to it.”
As Amanda Vitale’s children were being fitted by Greenfield, Vitale interjected, “This is the best thing ever. We come every year.”
Martha Gensel of Wilkes-Barre said that in spite of the heat and the long line, her children Logan, 12, and Dakota, 9, looked forward to picking out a color and getting on their bicycles later in the day.
“It protects their noggins,” she said.
When thunderstorms descended on the area just after 1 p.m., the firm announced that anyone unable to get a helmet during the holiday event and who has a child that qualifies, can either come to the law firm in Kingston July 5 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and July 6 from 8 a.m. to noon or to a second event in Scranton on Courthouse Square, also on July 6 between 4 and 7 p.m.
All helmets distributed by HKQ Kids meet U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission standards and are equipped with a user’s manual and CPSC label of certification.