The parking lot at First Presbyterian Church is usually not the most happening place in Fort Dodge on a Saturday afternoon. But on Sept. 7, the concrete was filled with kids and parents wending their way around stands, games, a pony and a gospel-preaching clown.
The Rally Weekend block party was a celebration of First Presbyterian’s 10 years of ministry in the Christian Life Center and especially 10 years of the KidZone Christian Child Care Center. According to Christian Educator Laura Stover, who runs the KidZone program and the Faith Alive Sunday School, the event was an enormous success.
“It was huge! It was awesome! It was more successful than I could have imagined in my tiny, little brain!” she laughs.
And the event was indeed huge. KidZone families and members of the First Presbyterian congregation were invited, but so was the whole neighborhood around the church. An estimated 500 people showed up with their appetites.
When the event began at 4 p.m., more than 450 hot dogs, 280 brownies, 11.5 gallons of homemade ice cream and a seemingly endless supply of shaved ice for snow cones were ready to be served. Two hours later, the hot dogs, brownies and ice were gone, and there was less than half a gallon of ice cream, Stover says.
In addition to the food, there were crafts, face-painting and tattoos, water balloons, checkers, a sing-along and pony rides on Patches the Pony. Not to mention Ben Christensen, a Christian entertainer who wandered the parking lot performing magic tricks.
“The way that he could preach the gospel of Jesus Christ through rubber bands and magic tricks was incredible,” Stover says.
According to Stover, First Presbyterian is making more of an effort this year to reach out to the neighborhood beyond the congregation. At least five families from the surrounding neighborhood showed up, and many were moved by the welcoming atmosphere. One mother had given each of her four children a couple of dollars, but when she learned that the food and all of the games were free, she was moved to tears.
“We plan on doing something with the community every month,” says Stover. “We’re really looking for ways to step out and help people feel welcome.”
To find out when October’s neighborhood event is, call the church at 576-2091 or visit the website at www.firstpresfd.org.
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