It's been a "hallapalooza" good time at First Baptist Church's inaugural week-long summer adventure for Wilson County youth and their parents, with a finale extravaganza planned for Saturday evening at the church campus in Mt. Juliet.
It began Monday and takes place each day this week from 6-8:30 p.m. at Charlie Daniels Park. The church has a renewed community outreach plan and wanted to provide a fun venue for children from preschoolers through fifth-grade, along with their parents. There are organized activities, free food and games, along with
skits with a religious theme. Student pastor Micah Brown helped organize the outside-the-box ongoing activities that help build community spirit and partnerships. He said there are about five new staff members at the church, including himself, who came on board a year ago.
"We have a new goal for FBC to be more community oriented," he said. "I want in five years for the people in Mt. Juliet to notice if our student ministry went away it would be missed. We want to offer the community something fun in an outreach for local kids and their parents."
Before this week-long event, the church's student ministry hung door knockers on 2,000 homes in the area to invite the community to Hallapalooza.
Thus far it's been successful. More than 150 children and some parents gathered each night at Charlie Daniels Park for the evening activities. Tuesday night, they all feasted on rice crispy treats, brownies and Kool-Aid, both kids and adults.
Each evening, the church sets up four stations at the park's pavilions. Several age groups rotate through the stations with age-appropriate activities. There's story time, games with a purpose, skits and more. On Tuesday, there were recreational water games where children threw sponges filled with water at each other and then knocked over buckets.
At the story time station the "story" is adapted to the particular age group. Monday's story was about the creation. For the adults, there were discussions about how to defend the Biblical version of the creation. Tuesday night, the theme was the parting of the Red Sea, Wednesday was the story of Jonah and Thursday will be Jesus walking on water. Each station of fun is planned around the theme.
At the recreation station Wednesday, to go with the Jonah theme, kids bobbed for plastic fishing worms and insects.
"We talked about how big a fish had to be to live inside him," said Brown.
He said the nightly activities, though popular, are just a precursor for the "main event" Saturday on the church campus that begins at 6 p.m. They expect more than 3,000 people to attend.
"I've just picked up 3,000 hot dogs," said Brown.
There's a huge evening planned, he said. Entertainment will be Nashville's Dim City Lights, a Christian pop band. Free food will include all those hot dogs, chips and drinks.
"We have a lady who is making 3,000 cupcakes," said Brown.
Those who participate will be able to decorate their own cupcake. Part of the evening will be a Dick's Sporting Goods' giveaway of 600 backpacks, and other area businesses have donated school supplies to fill the backpacks.
There will be a big wheel to spin to win even more prizes, said Brown. Around 7 p.m., activities will stop so those there can tour the church facility during an open house.
"All the church's Sunday school teachers will be in their rooms," said Brown. "This will give people a chance to see what it is like without having to come Sunday morning. We hope people like it."
Brown encourages all those who attend to wear their school colors because after the open house all will gather for a "universal blessing" of students just days before they start school. Mt. Juliet City Manager Kenneth Martin and possibly Wilson County Director of Schools Tim Setterlund will speak.
"We just want everyone to have a safe and happy school year," said Brown.