Hundreds enjoy free family event at YMCA
JANESVILLE A bee and several princesses did aerobics. Bat Girl ran laps. An alarming number of zombies had pizza for lunch.
Sunday afternoon wasn't your typical day at the YMCA of Northern Rock County.
Then again, the way the YMCA is growing and changing, few days are "typical," said Steve Scaccia, president of Freedom Plastics in Janesville.
That's why his company for seven years has hosted the Free Family Fun event at the YMCA in downtown Janesville, Scaccia said.
"The goal is to show people what we have right here in our community," Scaccia said. "This venue has grown up in the last 15 years. It's a great place for families, whether for fitness or just a place to go."
This year, as it has for the past few years, the event had a Halloween theme. Activities included a magic show, free pizza, a costume contest, swimming, exercise class demonstrations and a book fair. Even though the event competed with Sunday's Green Bay Packer game and gorgeous yard work weather, staff estimated about 2,000 people had attended in the first hour, said Tom Den Boer, chief executive officer of the YMCA of Northern Rock County.
The annual event typically draws about 3,500 people, he said.
Free Family Fun allows the YMCA to give back to the community and educate people about its programs, Den Boer said.
"The thrust of this is to continue to remind people the YMCA is open to everybody," Den Boer said. "No one is ever denied access because of financial reasons."
Many also aren't aware of the variety of programming available at the YMCA, Den Boer said. Much of the variety comes from the individual talents of the staff, he said. The YMCA employs around 15 full-time staff members and 125 seasonal or part-time workers, Den Boer said, and many people volunteer as coaches or mentors.
For example, he pointed to dance instructor Lyndsay Larson. Larson and other instructors were demonstrating Zumba, jump roping and other dance-style exercise classes. Most of the instructors wore tennis shoes. Larson wore high-heeled boots.
Among other things, she teaches ballroom dancing at the YMCA. Classes include private lessons for soon-to-be-married couples, Den Boer said.
"A few years ago, if you had told me ballroom dancing was the future of the YMCA, I never would have believed it," Den Boer said. "This is not a program traditionally associated with the YMCA. Now it's a mainstay program for us."
HALLOWEEN FASHION TIPS
Halloween costume parties are serious business. Please keep in mind these Halloween fashion tips as seen at Sunday's Family Fun Day at the YMCA of Northern Rock County.
-- Mario, your mustache looks great. However, it does not make you invisible. Sorry to break it to you, but even when you hold the mustache tightly to your upper lip and tiptoe across the gym floor, we still can see you.
-- Remember, Iron Man, you are going to have to remove your mask before taking a bite of pizza. You may put your mask back over your face while you chew, but you'll have to lift it again for the next bite. Failing to do so will result in cheese on your mask and water coming out the nose of any nearby journalists.
-- The best practice for Punk Rope participation is to remove your tutu. This applies whether you are a bee, a spider, a ballerina, a witch, a ladybug, or a princess. Tutus + jump ropes = tangled up bees, spiders, ballerinas, witches, ladybugs and princesses.
-- Attention aspiring Supergirls and Batmen! The best place to chase each other is on the running track above the J.P. Cullen Gym. You can safely get up enough wind speed to get your cape in an optimal flowing position. You look awesome from the gym floor.