Weather, petting zoo draw record crowd

This young lady has no problem with snakes even though the Darke County Parks volunteer told her this one hadn’t been fed since Monday.

GREENVILLE – Downtown Greenville was “hopping” Friday evening for the July First Friday event; many families were gathered around baby chicks, baby ducks, kittens and the Darke County Humane Society’s Domer the dog. There was also a long line at the corner of Greenville National Bank; they were waiting patiently for their ‘free’ (donations accepted) hot dogs and hamburgers.

“I can’t keep up with the demand,” said volunteer Dave Ernst shortly after the evening started. He dropped another dozen-plus burgers and dogs on the grill. “I’ve already pumped out 120.”

Crowds of parents and grandparents were gathered around their little ones as they picked up and cuddled the baby chicks and ducklings that didn’t manage to elude the small hands reaching for them. The kids were enjoying themselves; the objects of their affection maybe not as much.

Domer was greeting children and adults alike; according to his handler he enjoys kids. The family in his first home was burned out; they had to find a new place to live. It was one that didn’t allow pets, so Domer is looking for a new home.

Further north on Broadway, RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) volunteers were challenging kids to learn the necessary skills to use 4-man skis. Didn’t seem to work too well, but the children – in this case, Ava, Sarah, Ashton and Logan – had fun trying. Down by the movie theater Dori Howdieshell, Cancer Association of Darke County, had a bowling game set up for kids… “Strike! Spare! (or whatever!) Come back in 15 minutes to get your bracelet.”

“Why 15 minutes?”

“I had to send Mark out for more! We’ve handed out 185 already.” Over the course of five minutes, another 15 youngsters won a bracelet. “I’ll know better next year,” Howdieshell added.

Across the street, Greta the Great Horned Owl and the Darke County Parks’ brown snake were entertaining visitors; also scheduled to appear was Joseph the Red Tailed Hawk. The owl is totally blind; she was hit by a truck several years ago and has been living at Shawnee Prairie about five years. The snake eats mice and other small animals. “They must really be small,” said one youngster, looking at the snake’s tiny head. “You’d be surprised how wide that mouth can open,” came the answer, “and he only gets fed once a week, on Mondays.”

These were just a few of the opportunities kids had to enjoy games and other “fun things” while host non-profits talked to parents about their organizations. In all, 18 agencies were entertaining visitors, young and old, and offering everything from a lollipop tree to fruit loop necklace making.

Main Street Greenville intern Sunni Tomlinson said she loves what they are doing. “It’s good to see kids out here learning all these things… the snake and owl at Darke County Parks. Instead of sitting around watching TV they’re out here learning.”

“This is a great crowd… and wonderful weather,” said Main Street Greenville Executive Director Amber Garrett. She later noted about 2,000 people were there throughout the evening, up about 500 from the previous month.

Ava Loudy, Sarah Loudy, Ashton Noggle and Logan Nation attempt to use the 4-man skis set up by RSVP.

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