First-time Fun in the Son 'huge success,' organizers say
Morgan Griffin, with a blue and white design on her face and while clutching several plastic animal figures, was happy that she made a trip from Rochester to Batavia Saturday.
The 11-year-old came with some family members to EverPresent Church’s Fun in the Son carnival. The event greeted visitors with a balloon arch at the entrance, and had several tents set up with games, food and drink, colorful bounce houses and a petting zoo with goats.
“I loved it,” Morgan said. “All the excitement and how nice the people are. They did a good job.”
Her family knows someone in the church and heard about the event, so they took a drive to check it out. Morgan visited every tent and won the toy animals as game prizes.
Much closer to the scene was April Allison. She lives nearby and happened to spot the activity in the City Centre parking lot.
“I was dropping my boyfriend off at work when I saw the balloons,” she said. “So we walked over here.”
Her daughter Adara, who’s going into the fourth grade at John Kennedy Intermediate, liked the bounce houses best. They were checking out the petting zoo after spending a couple of hours there.
Jill Turner of Batavia had seen an online post about the Nortons seeking vendors who might want to help out, so she responded. She has four miniature goats and offered a small petting zoo. They were enclosed in a mobile fence that opened for visiting children to pet and feed them.
“I thought it would be good to bring my goats and do a good deed,” she said.
The zoo was a popular spot. Several children and their parents stopped by, including Adara and her mom. They had seen most of the exhibits, but weren’t quite finished, Adara said just before suggesting the next booth to visit.
“Snowcones,” she said, as the sun beamed down in 80-degree weather.
Pastors Jason and Michelle Norton, leaders of the church, wanted the event to “be a blessing” for the community, and they felt it was a mission accomplished.
Jason worked the refreshment stand while Michelle made announcements from behind tables full of raffle gift baskets. It had been going very well, she said, and Jason had sold more than 150 hotdogs with about an hour remaining before closing time.
From the moment the official beginning hit — 11 a.m. — “we were a steady busy flow of families all the way ’til 3 p.m.,” Michelle said.
“From what we gathered, the children were super blessed; they were so excited and delighted with all the prizes they won, and I know the church family was thrilled to be able to serve our community,” she said. “People were asking us about our church, almost everyone that came had a chance to go through the church and we had well over 100 kids get their faces painted, along with hundreds winning multiple prizes.”
While one goal was to offer some fun entertainment for kids and families, the Nortons also wanted to introduce the church to the community, and vice versa. Jason estimated that "well over 500" people attended, and considered it a huge success.
Mary Hecht sat in the middle of all of the action as she sold tickets for the games and other activities. She’s been going to the church for several years, she said.
Everyone involved has been very pleased, she said.
“We’ve really been very busy; God really blessed us,” she said. “ We were all praying this morning before it started. This has been really nice for the community, it’s been really nice.”
The event was a success on so many levels, Michelle Norton said, including to serve as a fundraiser.
“We raised half the funds for a much-needed heating and air conditioning unit that we need to install, and we made some great connections and some more networking,” she said. “Our plan is to do this annually. We are playing around with the idea of taking the Fourth of July the day that we have our festival, as long as GO ART! is not doing it anymore.”
The plan is to expand upon what they offered this year, she said, by adding carnival rides, vendors and possibly food trucks.
"We want to turn that parking lot into a full-fledged carnival with some live music, and I think it will happen by next year,” she said.
For previous coverage about the church, go to EverPresent
Top photo: The entrance to Fun in the Son at the City Centre parking lot next to event host EverPresent Church; Morgan Griffin, 11, of Rochester; Visitors at the petting zoo, provided by Jill Turner, center, and Pastor Michelle Norton making announcements during the event Saturday in Batavia.