NEWBURGH - Newburgh’s 14th annual everything-free, everybody-welcome, fun-for-all Family Day in the Park was a happy occasion for several hundred Hudson Valley kids, parents and other delighted attendees on the afternoon of Saturday, July 13th in beautiful Downing Park. The always-popular event was sponsored by the Maj. Gen. Irene Trowell-Harris Chapter of the world-famous Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. association. Co-sponsors were the Hudson Health Plan and the Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center, which provided free blood pressure and health screening in its fully equipped rolling health center.
Also present were an ambulance from Mobile Life Support Services and a fire truck from the City of Newburgh Fire Department, with paramedics, EMTs and firefighters providing up-close looks at the rigs’ interiors and equipment. Community exhibits from Planned Parenthood, the Newburgh Armory Unity Center and Affinity Health also lined the lawn.
Despite a morning of discouraging rain showers, the afternoon turned sunny and warm, and by two p.m., a long line of diners eagerly awaited free grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, boiled corn on the cob and a hearty mixed salad. The Poughkeepsie chapter of the national African-American womens’ sorority Zeta Phi Beta provided a constant flow of ice-cream sundaes, and the Tuskegee Airmen’s big grille continued to blaze throughout the afternoon.
The Mariachi Viva Mexico band and the blues musicians of Murali Coryell played live for much of the afternoon, with DJ Nish Henderson filling in between the bands. The hit of the afternoon was the Tuskegee Airmen’s youth talent contest, with a variety of kids aged four to 16 singing and dancing for prizes. The winners were Imari Hunter (3rd Place), Kamryn & Jazlyn Rodriguez (2nd Place), and Zaida Sanders (First Place).
An added treat this year was the participation of the Newburgh Free Academy (NFA) crew, which provided boat rides around Downing Park’s lake. Also joining in the festivities was Newburgh Mayor Judy Kennedy.
The Newburgh chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen operates the Lt. Lee A. Archer Jr. Red Tail Youth Flying Program for Hudson Valley boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 18. The program is free but competitive and limited to approximately 18 students.