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The Station 3 fire truck (parked outside the Westside Community Center in the 1600 block of Bijou Street) was a hit with the young of heart at the center's second annual picnic Aug. 18.
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Numbers rise to 300 for Westside Community Center in second year of picnic

Aug. 20, 2018
       In August 2017, the Westside Community Center started a new tradition - an annual picnic that would offer a free hot lunch and family activities and promote the center's various programs.
       Not sure how big a crowd there'd be, the center planned for 150 - only to have
People standing in line for free barbecued hotdogs at the Aug. 18 picnic were kept satisfied through the volunteer efforts of the Woodmen Valley Chapel's community outreach arm, ACTS (A Call to Serve).
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that many on hand before the three-hour event's halfway point, leading to a near-shortage of food. The eventual total reached about 250.
       So to be on the safe side for the second annual picnic Aug. 18, Aundrea Fuller, the center's marketing coordinator, planned for at least 300 people.
       Which was good thinking, as it turned out, because that's about how many showed up, by her estimates. “It was a great turnout,” Fuller summarized. “Everything went very smoothly, and the weather cooperated, with only a little sprinkle.”
       Activities were spread around the former Buena Vista school complex, consisting of 2.8 acres at 1628 W. Bijou St.
       Near the community garden and playground was the food line, with barbecued hotdogs, side dishes and beverages provided by the Woodmen Valley Chapel's
Three members of the Yosakoi group, who have a Japanese festival dancing class Monday evenings at the Westside Community Center, perform during the Aug. 18 picnic. From left are Harper Kral, Anna Pico and group leader Laura Powell. The group recently attended a festival in Kochi, Japan. All ages are welcome to join, Powell said.
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community outreach arm, ACTS (A Call to Serve). Since 2010, Woodmen has had a lease agreement with Colorado Springs Parks to operate the center.
       Most of the activities were in the grassy, tree-shaded area along Bijou. These included games such as football or beanbag tosses, “fishing” over a partition and “bowling” to knock over inflated pins; demonstrations by groups such as the Yosakoi (Japanese festival dancing) and Colorado Infinity Athletics (gymnastics); and entertainment by musicians who attend the weekly jam sessions at the center organized by the Black Rose Acoustic Society.
       Also popular were the El Paso County Sheriff's Mounted Patrol (two of its officers on horseback) and a truck from Fire Station 3.
       Three local elected officials attended: Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers; At- Large Councilmember Bill Murray; and County Commissioner Stan VanderWerf, whose District 3 includes the Westside.
       Suthers, holding a hotdog plate, commented that he likes the way the old Buena Vista school has been preserved and reused through a public-private partnership involving the city and Woodmen - similar in some respects to what's happened at the former Ivywild school (now a commercial center) south of the downtown area.
       Roughly 20 booths, representing local businesses and nonprofits (some associated with the center), were set up at various locations.
Tom Kushnerick (in orange Tshirt), a member of the Kindred Collective church that meets at the Community Center, helps a young festival attendee with a game.
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       Fuller expressed appreciation for her volunteer help (in addition to ACTS). They were principally from the Kindred Collective (a small church that leases space in the center) and a marriage Bible group from Woodmen. With their help, “we were a half-hour ahead of schedule setting up,” she said.
       When Fuller had the occasional break, she led an interactive table where kids could make their own “sensory bottles” using oil, water soap, glitter and other interesting additives.
       Open Monday through Friday and most week nights, the Westside Community Center presents a broad spectrum of programs and classes - some free, some with a cost. There's also a preschool, and buses bring in students from Buena Vista and West elementaries for YMCA after-school activities during the school year.
       For more information, call 385-720 x100.

Westside Pioneer article
(Community: Westside Community Center)
Aundrea Fuller, the Westside Community Center's marketing coordinator, works with families during the picnic at her interactive table mixing together "sensory bottles."
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LEFT: Pamela Polke (center), director of the region's Children's Literacy Center, was aided by student volunteers Sophia Bultema (left) and Ingrid Hernández Bandrich. RIGHT: A demonstration by Colorado Infinity Athletics from Trampoline World.
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