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The Westside Community Center's parking lot became a site for various booths and tables during the Community Picnic Aug. 27.
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'Huge success' for Westside Center's first-time Community Picnic

The long line for the barbecue lasted most of the day during the Community Picnic Aug. 27 at the Westside Community Center.
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In planning the first-time Community Picnic at the Westside Community Center Aug. 27, Aundrea Fuller was hopeful that as many as 150 people might come.
       She underestimated the event's appeal.
       Not counting 100 volunteers, other people involved in the center and those who were promoting groups or activities, she estimated afterward that a good 250 people showed up.
       Located on the 2.8-acre former Buena Vista school property since 2009, the city-owned facility has been operated since 2010 by the Woodmen Valley Chapel's community outreach arm, ACTS (A Call to Serve).
       The picnic turnout was so overwhelming that the two-hour event temporarily ran out of food about halfway through. All the 250 brats and dogs that center staff and volunteers had started with were cooked up by then, laid onto attendees' paper plates.
Myra Martinez (right) hugs her former teacher, Suzanne Estrada, inside a cottage at the Community Picnic that was focused on the local fundraising efforts/advocacy that led to the installation of playground equipment in 1995. At that time, Martinez was a first-grader in Estrada's class at Buena Vista Elementary, where the Westside Community Center is now. On the wall behind them are postings of writings and photos that had been put in a time capsule in '95. The capsule was found when City Parks dug up the old playground last April.
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Luckily, help was on the way. ACTS had leftover food from an event elsewhere and was able to deliver the additional goodies without much of a hitch.
       “I think it was a huge success. We did a good job of setting the groundwork for future picnics,” Fuller summed up afterward. The center has previously hosted similar affairs by other groups, but this “was a good foothold for our own picnic,” she added.
       The free festivities included a barbecue, live entertainment, kids' activities, publicity about center offerings, booths with community information and a focus on the playground that had been removed by the city last April (and is now scheduled for replacement in September).
       The previous playground had been installed through an intensive school/community effort in 1995 when Buena Vista was still a District 11 public school site. A time capsule had accompanied that installation. Despite water damage to its contents, Fuller was able to salvage many items - chiefly photos and student writings - and had them on display in one of the school's old cottages.
       “The funniest thing is the swinging bridge,” reads a short student piece from the 1995 capsule, talking about the then-new playground. Ripped in half, with a water stain in one corner, the essay continues, “Thank you for putting up the playground. Sometimes I go and play on it the whole day.”
       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.
       Here are some of the Community Center's offerings: French, Spanish, English as a second language, senior meals, fitness center, dance classes (kid and adult - various types), ballet, Silver Sneakers (senior exercise), medical clinics, beading/jewelry making, art, photography, writing, crafts, yoga, meditation, a music jam, pickleball and table tennis.
       For a full list, with class/program specifics along with days and times, click on the Westside Community Center link at the top of the Westside Pioneer home page at this link.
       The center phone is 385-7920 x100.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 8/29/17; Community: Westside Community Center

LEFT: An opportunity for bubble creativity was one of the activities at the Westside Community Picnic RIGHT: Making a colorful appearance at the picnic were the Red Queen (Kaeley Shae) and the Mad Hatter (Kaylor Korwek). Kaeley is the sister of picnic organizer Aundrea Fuller, and Kaylor is her husband.
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Westside Community Center attendees were treated to string tunes by musicians who have been participating in weekly jam sessions at the center organized by the Black Rose Acoustic Society.
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