A big smile never left the face of 11-year-old Hawlaysia Warren as she eagerly waited to climb into the driver’s seat of a city firetruck, and her smile only got larger once she sat in the vehicle.
“I can drive it,” she said while attempting to turn the steering wheel. “It’s so tall.”
The truck — with firefighters later lightly spraying water, to the delight of kids — was among the attractions at ESA Park Apartments’ first summer picnic Friday.
Police officers were at the 176-unit East Side apartment complex to talk about safety with the community. Also, there was an inflatable bounce house, a DJ, a Hispanic band and free food.
“The event is beautiful,” said Ronell Waller, who has lived at ESA for the past three years. “Everyone’s enjoying themselves. It’s a great day for the neighborhood.”
Mike Hornyak, who’s owned the complex for the past 13 years, said events such as Friday’s bring people closer together and help them get to know their neighbors.
“We want the people who live here to know we’ve cleaned the place up and we’re here for them,” added Mary Templeton, ESA’s manager. “We’re trying to get the people to come here and have a good time.”
There was an egg hunt on Easter, and there will be trick-or-treating on Halloween, she said.
“It’s really nice,” said Kira Lee, 14, of Friday’s picnic. “I’m glad they’re doing events like this. It’s nice to get the neighbors together.”
Erin Chambers, who has lived at the complex for four years, said she is happy that the complex is having neighborhood events.
“We need some positives like this,” she said.
Fred Gibson, who has lived at ESA for the past 12 years, agrees.
“I think it’s good for people here,” he said. “It allows us to meet people who live in the neighborhood who’ve never met before. I give [management] credit. They are interacting with the tenants.”