“Say Thank You,” exclaimed Earl McKnight as he sternly addressed his three grandchildren, who in the core of their excitement, forgot to express appreciation after receiving what McKnight considered a true “Blessing in a Back-Pack,” which was the theme of this year’s City of Opa-locka’s 13th Annual Back-to-School Celebration and Health Fair, hosted by Vice Mayor Dorothy “Dottie” Johnson, Commissioner Gail Miller, The Mayor and City Commission, in partnership with the Office of the City Clerk and Auto Depot International, on Saturday, August 20, 2011 from 3:00 to 6:30 PM at Segal/Miller Park, 2331 NW 143rd Street, Opa-locka, Florida.
Two-days prior to the on-set the new school year, in faultless weather, over 1000 City of Opa-locka youths arrived with either one or both parents or a guardian in unprecedented numbers for an enjoyable afternoon of live entertainment featuring Pipeline Records performers “Lil’ Bass,” “Dem Twins” and “T.J. The Hit Maker,” accompanied by FREE food, gift cards, uniforms and back-packs filled with school supplies, which provided assistance to community parents who were overflowing with gratitude for the support during the new school term.
The end-of-the-summer event was also enhanced through vendor participation by Florida International University School of Medicine, Teacher’s Choice Tutors, Civil Air Patrol, Rocket Learning Center, Celebrate Life Financial Services, Clover Leaf Chiropractor Service, TD Bank, Primerica Financial, Wing Stop/Devine Network, Grace Academy and VanKara School, all of whom shared valuable information on health, education, finances and/or other programs while distributing souvenirs, keepsakes, free learning books, brochures, other handouts and goodies to parents who geared-up for the year with informative material, while many of the youth amused themselves at the “Game Excite” Interactive Mobil Entertainment unit, and at the face painting, Cotton Candy, Snow Cones or Popcorn booths, provided by “Jackie’s Party Rental.” Barrett Catering prepared, on the spot, an endless flow of Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, French fries, Chicken Wings and a variety of cold drinks. If that wasn’t enough to cap the end-of-summer break, Mickey and Minnie transformed Segal/Miller into a Magical Kingdom, as children, in breathless anticipation, waited to be photographed with their favorite Mice.
While admiring the success of the day, City Clerk Deborah Sheffield-Irby glanced the area at the countless number of families benefiting from the event, before noting, “This was one of the largest turn-outs we’ve had,” then smiled as she proceeded alongside event hosts Vice Mayor Johnson and Commissioner Miller, who were joined by Commissioner Timothy Holmes, in personally greeting each child as they presented them with their “Blessing.”
Like Mr. McKnight, another parent quickly reminded her child as he received his bag and immediately began probing through it, “What do you say to the Commissioner?” He eagerly replied, “Oh, Thank You!” In a loving voice Commissioner Miller responded, “We KNOW the babies are thankful, when we look at the expression on their faces… sometime they just get too excited to let the words out,” she laughed!
As always, Vice Mayor Johnson was thrilled to know that the Commission could be of assistance to the residents of Opa-locka, especially during these rough economic times. Irby emphasized, “We want to alleviate the stress for parents, and lessen the anxiety for students by providing them with some of the necessary tools and resources for the start of the school term, enabling them to focus academically… and THAT is the ‘Blessing,’ WE are ‘thankful’ to share from the City of Opa-locka!”