Matthew Mullen was fitted for a helmet, had his bike seat lowered and was taught how to use his arms to signal when turning at an intersection.
“The seat was a little high, but it was a lot of fun,” said Mullen, 8, of Old Bethpage, before he received a free set of reflectors to put on his own bike at home.
Mullen was among the hundreds to take advantage of the Town of Oyster Bay’s sixth annual Children’s Festival and Safety Day on Saturday at John J. Burns Park in Massapequa.
The free event had a magic show, safety-related demonstrations, displays of law enforcement vehicles, bounce houses, slides and face painting.
Ed Major, the president of the Massapequa Bicycle Club, helped him and other children maneuver the Bike Safety Rodeo course at the event.
“It’s a simple obstacle course for kids to navigate,” said Major, of Syosset. “We fit them for a helmet, raise or lower their bike seat and teach them hand signs to signal and how to start and stop safely.”
Town Supervisor John Venditto said the event is to entertain, but also educate children in terms of public safety. In past years, he said, the event has attracted about 5,000 residents throughout the day.
Cherianne and Michael Mangin brought their children, Cameron, 4, and Kiera, 3, for the first time.
“It’s an educational experience where the kids get to learn a little more about their community,” said Cherianne Mangin, of Massapequa. “It was nice for the kids to be able to interact with the police.”
Both their children tried on bulletproof vests from the Nassau County Special Operations Bureau and watched the Massapequa Fire Department use the Jaws of Life to release “victims” from a car, demonstrating how they would free a victim stuck in a vehicle after an accident.
Maureen Fitzgerald, commissioner of community and youth services for the town, said the event is not only free, but also creates a fun environment for kids to learn what first responders do and how to stay safe within their neighborhoods.
“When times are tough, residents don’t have to leave; there are more places to go for free in their community,” Fitzgerald said. “It also gives everyone an awareness of what we have and not to be afraid of emergency officials.”
Months ago, Marie Lippman and her 6-year-old son, Sean, put the festival on their calendar at home so they wouldn’t forget to come.
“It’s fantastic,” said Lippman, of Massapequa Park. “We’ve been waiting for this all summer and now it’s here.”