Hundreds of South Side children get treats, meet police at Harvest Fest

Hundreds of South Side children get treats, meet police at Harvest Fest



Seeing youngsters gathered at an outdoor festival enjoying candy, popcorn and hot dogs pleases Victoria Allen, but it’s probably safe to say that the event’s purpose is more fulfilling to her.

“My passion is children’s safety and unity,” Allen, president of the ICU Block Watch group, said of Sunday’s first Neighborhood Harvest gathering at St. Dominic Church, 77 E. Lucius Ave., on the city’s South Side.

Sponsors of the free, two-hour festival were the church and the 1-year-old block-watch program, which covers East Lucius, Boston, Philadelphia and Avondale avenues.

Several hundred children and adults braved temperatures in the mid-40s and a stiff wind to attend the event, which was to provide youngsters with a safe place and to give attendees an opportunity to form positive relationships with police and other safety-force members, noted Patty Bowser, the block-watch group’s vice president.

It also was intended to provide fun and enjoyment for children whose parents might be fearful of their youngsters going trick-or-treating today, Bowser said.

Members of the Youngstown Police and Fire departments, a SWAT crisis-response team, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and Rural Metro Ambulance were on hand, along with Capt. Bill Hack of the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Department’s Dive Team.

Many youngsters clustered around a table Hack had set up to view several .38-caliber guns, a Ruger 9 mm shotgun, a 7 mm Japanese sniper rifle used during World War II and other firearms - all of which the team had recovered from McKelvey Lake in Youngstown. Also on display were a pair of goggles and a metal detector his team often uses on such expeditions.

Read the full story Monday in The Vindicator and on

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