Police reach out to kids with annual pool party

MARIETTA – Oohing and ahhing at the color changing hair clips and colorful hair extensions, 7-year-old Kasia Carter assessed the prize she had just won Wednesday morning at the annual Police Pool Party.

“I’m happy. It’s got this that changes colors, and this,” she added pointing to the pictures on the box of the hair salon kit.

Though she was not quite sure what the prize contained when she won it moments before, it did not stop Carter from wildly waving her new toy around to show her father and sisters.

Carter was among hundreds of children to win a prize Wednesday at the party, which drew nearly 1,000 people to the Marietta Aquatic Center. Sponsored by the Marietta Police Department and Fraternal Order of Police Pioneer City Lodge 12, the party – once a picnic – has been a community summer staple since the 1930s.

Many, like Carter’s father, remember attending the party in their youth.

“I always bring them, every year,” said William Carter, 29, of his five children. “I used to come to these when I was a kid, and they enjoy it. You can’t beat a free day at the pool.”

Winning a prize – a light-up Skip-it – was a highlight of the day for 9-year-old Kylah Stanley of Marietta. But the day would be fun even without the prize, she added.

“I enjoyed swimming with my friends. I’ve seen a lot of people I know here,” she said.

While swimming and prizes bring plenty of smiles, the Marietta Police Department hopes the children have a larger take-away from the event as well.

“This provides a positive interaction between the children, and the community, and the police department,” said Capt. Jeff Waite.

The goal is that the interaction will help youth see that police are easily approachable, trustworthy figures, he said.

Sarah McKay, a Marietta mom of five, said the event is a good representation of the community spirit that makes Marietta unique.

“I think Marietta is a very family friendly community, and we really appreciate that the police department goes out of their way to support family fun,” said McKay, 37.

Rebecca Wheeler, who brought her three children and a family friend, said her family postponed a trip for a day so they could attend the event for the first time.

“My husband works on the road. We were going to leave to see him today, but we put it off until tomorrow,” said Wheeler, 37, of Devola.

Around 300 prizes were given away Wednesday. Among them were dolls, action figures, remote-controlled cars, fashion kits, outdoor toys, around 40 bicycles, and an Xbox One.