Special Friends Day

Marian Puente, 10, enjoys the goats and other animals on Special Friends Day at the Porterville Fair in the All American Petting Zoo. The weather was good for the rest of the day and over 800 special needs children and adults enjoyed a day of fun, rides and special events sponsored by Porterville Breakfast Rotary and other service groups.

Developmentally Disabled have fun and thrills

Pouring rain and freezing weather didn’t dampen the spirits of Porterville Breakfast Rotary members and other volunteers who set up activities and fun events for about 800 developmentally disabled people, from youngsters to adults, to enjoy at the Porterville fairgrounds Thursday, May 16.

Students from Porterville High School, Monache High, and Granite Hills High helped in the face painting booth, and at the sensory booth where young people learned how to take dirt and plant flowers in plastic cups, other young disabled children helped put glitter in bottles while high school students put colored liquid in the bottles for them to create a colorful eye catching souvenir from their Porterville Fair visit.

Kids also enjoyed the “Great American Petting Zoo” at the fair, which featured a friendly young  pig, a young wallaby, a pregnant miniature donkey, a llama, pigmy goats, a beautiful white Great Pyrenees puppy and other animals.

County Supervisor District 5 Dennis Townsend is a Rotary volunteer, along with Donna Hefner and Kent Sorrells of Sierra View Medical Center, Janice Castle, and others who helped set up the various booths for the special needs activities in the morning.

Mrs. Marr, a Special Education teacher at West Putnam Elementary said, “It’s awesome they open up the fair for the day for our students.”

Long time Special Education teacher Barbara Means, now retired, said she came out as a surprise for her West

Putnam students.

Jennifer Avila and her teenage son Brayden, granddaughter Makinzie Hobson, 6, and Sawyer Ensley Hobson, 11 months, riding in a wagon pulled by Brayden, walked by and talked with Olive Street Special Ed. teacher Lori Pasey from Tulare County Office Education, who teaches grades 4-6. 

“We’ve been coming here since my son Brayden was six years old and he went to Los Robles. The special friends program gets better every year,” said Avila.

Her granddaughter, Makinzie Hobson, 6, said, “I like getting my face painted, the projects and the rides. And petting the goats and playing ball.”

Pasey said, “We thought we were going to be rained out, but the fair means so much to us. and there is something for everyone to enjoy.”

When the sun came out later in the day more special needs students and their teachers had arrived, and there were more events, such as a magician on the fair’s Rotary stage entertaining a large crowd.

There was also a large crowd in the bleachers watching an aerial water show which was unlike anything most people had ever seen. The Nor Cal Jetovator Hydro Circus captivated young and old alike, with barrel rolls, turns and spins in the sky, while water sprayed all over, all in time with a musical backdrop. It was a thrilling performance and families, teachers and disabled students were enthralled watching the jet-ski jetovator athletes perform in the large pool at the fairgrounds. 

“That reminds me of Iron Man,” said Stephanie Chaparro, whose children attend J.B. Hill Day care. Her son Joey, 6, was eating a snow cone and laughing as he watched the jet-ski man ride the Jetovator, who was introduced to the crowd as “Joey” also. Michael Chaparro was standing by Gabe, 11, their son who is in an electric wheel chair. 

“There’s been a great turnout, even though we had rain and cold weather,” said Townsend. “Plenty of volunteers today, and everyone is having a great time. I see a lot of smiles on all the kids’ faces. I’m happy to be volunteering today.”

“Thank you to the Porterville Fair for hosting the Special Friends of the Fair day, rain or shine. Breakfast Rotary had a great time setting up, registering and welcoming students, making snacks and just having fun shaking our tail feathers,” said Porterville Breakfast Rotary members.

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