The National Cherry Festival opened its grounds early in the morning to give kids with disabilities a special chance to play games and enjoy fair rides.
It didn’t matter if kids had physical, hearing or visual disabilities. The park was theirs on Wednesday.
It’s all part of their annual Special Kids Day—an event families look forward to, says Event Director Angela Holmes.
“Parents don’t have a lot of time to do these events because they’re not sure if it’s going to work for their child, so they know that this event is going to work,” she said.
Around 1,200 people come from all over to enjoy this event, including Ben Dornoff.
“This is an event you can come to and you don’t have to worry about ‘oh you can’t go on that because of this,’ and so it’s just an event that everyone is welcomed to and it’s just nice,” he says.
Eric Kinzinger’s group the ARC drove from Manistee.
“This group has been coming down here for many years, so this is a trip that the kids and the adults all look forward to,” he says. “We got up early and drove down. The kids definitely look forward to this. We’re safe and we’re welcomed, and this is for us a really nice thing that Cherry Fest puts on.”
Having fun is something the National Cherry Festival wants to make sure everyone can take advantage of.
“It makes me feel good that we can make this event and make Cherry Festival Accessible,” Holmes says.
“Anyone with any ability or disabilities can come and be a part of it,” Dornoff says. “Whether they’re from here or from everywhere, just knowing that hey I have a disability or I have something I have a challenge in and I can still come and not be excluded from anything.”
It special to see kids’ faces light up as they enjoyed the festival. It’s the reason organizers say tradition will continue for years to come.