Sunday, June 04, 2000

Covington bike rodeo is a big hit with kids

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Eager children started gathering Saturday two hours before the scheduled start of the Veterans of Foreign Wars' sixth annual Bike Rodeo and Safety Fair.

        “When we got here at 9:30 (a.m.), there were five kids waiting,” said Missy Beach, a member of the ladies auxiliary for VFW Post 6095 of Latonia and chairwoman of the bike rodeo. “It's great to see that kind of interest.”

(Luis Sanchez photo)
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        From noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, 54 children ages 1 to 13 had their faces painted, laughed at Shriners clowns, and demonstrated their safety awareness and ridership skills, as they maneuvered their bikes through a maze of orange cones.

        No bike? It didn't matter.

        For children who didn't own a bike, or who couldn't easily bring one, the VFW had extras on hand.

        “This is our way of giving back to the kids in the community,” Ms. Beach said. “When they're happy, we're happy.”

        Prizes at the bike rodeo, which also was hosted by the city of Covington and the Covington Police Department, included six new bikes, helmets and T-shirts, food or coupons for meals or sandwiches from a half-dozen local vendors. Also given out were autographed memorabilia from the Reds and Bengals, and passes to a number of area attractions — including Kings Island, Fantasy Frontier, the Cincinnati Zoo and the Newport Aquarium.

        “My kids look forward to this every year,” said Kathy Tucker, who enjoyed the sunny afternoon with her 11-year-old son, Kyle, her 13-year-old nephew, Dustin Ferguson, and grandchildren Nicholas Humphrey, 5, and Courtney, 7, and Alicia Sturgill, 8.

        Ms. Tucker said her son was hoping to win a bike, after his recently got stolen.

        Nearby, Joshua Tarlton, 11, anxiously watched as one of his competitors rode through the timed obstacle course.

        “I'm in second place so far,” the Latonia youth said. “Last year, I won first place in the lower division.”

        Butch Keller, a member of VFW Post 6095, said children from throughout Greater Cincinnati traditionally attend the free bike rodeo.

        The VFW also sponsors a number of other programs for youths, including an annual fishing derby at the lake behind its headquarters, an Easter egg hunt and a visit with Santa.

        “In Covington, public education is under this tremendous pressure to provide better results,” said Diane Brumback, executive director of the Covington Educational Foundation, a nonprofit group supporting academic excellence for Covington's public school students. “We need to embrace different groups in the community who are devoting their resources to helping the children of Covington change and grow and succeed.”


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