TORONTO - From a tiny turtle race to games for children to a wing-eating contest between the city's safety forces and a spectacular fireworks presentation in the evening, Gem City Day, which will be celebrated July 6, will have something for everyone.
While many activities are like those of years past, there are some new surprises as well, including participation by the TEMS Joint Ambulance District, the Jefferson County Health Department and John Ratti State Farm Insurance, according to Brenda Cich, chairman of the Focus in Toronto Committee, event sponsors.
The event, centered around the city gazebo commons at the corner of Third and Market streets, also will coincide first Gem City Day Mike Shuma Healthy Heart Run/Walk and the program and fireworks at Clarke Hinkle Field later that evening.
The day begins with an open breakfast from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Toronto Masonic Lodge, 202 S. Third St.
The Anything on Wheels Kids and Pets Patriotic Parade will begin the day with lineup at the gazebo at 9:30 a.m. The parade will begin at 10 a.m.
"There will be first-, second- and third-place prizes for kids and pets," said Cich, adding prizes will be awarded in two categories - anything on wheels and patriotic pets. "This is an anything on wheels parade. Kids are invited to decorate their bikes, electric cars, wagons, scooters - anything on wheels is welcome. It's also a pet dress-up parade and contest. We've had some very unique and inventive entries in the past, and I'm looking forward to seeing the variety of entries this year."
The food court opens at 10 a.m. and runs to 3 p.m. and will feature a variety of foods from local vendors, said Cich. And, from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. there will be carnival games for children, including inflatable games.
"We're going to have the giant slide as well as the obstacle course inflatables for the kids," Cich said, adding there will be two more inflatables this year from Movin' and Groovin' Productions, including a bounce house and an obstacle course for younger children. "It's very safe, and it's all enclosed," she said.
There also may be a live broadcast from WOGH-FM, said Cich.
At 11 a.m., the Kid's Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest is scheduled at the gazebo with registration to begin at 10 a.m., Cich said. Prizes will be awarded for the most inventive, she added. Games also will be part of the fun, and T-shirts will be available for sale, Cich said. She added T-shirts are $10 for kids and $12 for adults.
"We're taking pre-orders for the T-shirts, and once they're gone, they're gone," she said, adding T-shirts can be reserved by going to the events page at www.Facebook/focusintoronto.
Games will include a cornhole tournament at noon in the Toronto First Presbyterian Church parking lot next to the gazebo, and those participating should sign up at the information booth by 11 a.m. The cost is $10 per team, with a minimum age of 12. A food court will be available at Sloane Station Square, including Mama G's Pizza, she added.
Also beginning at noon will be the children's watermelon eating contest, with first-, second- and third-place prizes in age groups 4-7 and 8-12. Scheduled for 12:30 p.m. is a children's seed-spitting contest with prizes awarded for first-, second- and third-place in age groups 4-7 and 8-12, Cich added.
At 2:30 p.m. will be a wing-eating contest between the city's police officers, the city fire department and TEMS, according to Cich.
Cich also said Gem City Day is joining forces with TEMS, the county health department and State Farm. Additional activities will include a safety house tied to fire prevention, blood pressure screenings by the health department in its Emergency Response Unit along with a safety seat check station, with children's car seats inspected and replaced if needed. Other items for the public's inspection along with information will be available. The Pittsburgh Pirates mascot, the Pirate Parrot, will be onsite for children from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. courtesy of TEMS, Cich said.
"We'll end the downtown festival with the annual turtle race at Newburg Landing Park beginning at 3 p.m. with the owner of the winning turtle receiving $500 cash," Cich said. Cash prizes also will be awarded for second- and third-place finishers. Others who place will be awarded with prizes, depending on the donations we receive this year.
"People can adopt turtle certificates at Henry's Dairy Isle, Yummy's and Sally's Hallmark in Toronto," she said, adding turtle adoption certificates are $5 each. Certificates went on sale today, she added.
"Proceeds from the turtle race and Gem City Day T-shirts fund 100 percent of everything we do each year - Gem City Day, the Christmas parade, the Festival of the Arts and our $500 community service scholarship, as well as the many contributions we make to community organizations and those in need throughout the year," Cich said. "We appreciate the continued support of the community."
The evening ends with the pre-fireworks entertainment from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. prior to the fireworks display at dusk at the Toronto High School Stadium.
Cich said details and a full schedule of events as well as updates are available at www.FocusInToronto.com.