Top: Bee Bhavanaben and her son, Om, at a tent set up by the city's Youth and Recreation Department. Bottom: Youth & Rec representatives including Youth Services Specialist Ronald Huggins. Makeda Murray Photos.
The grass field bustled with activity. The temperature was a punishing 96 degrees, so parents and kids beaded, perused craft and food tables, and sat under tents. Some headed straight for the bouncy house and water slide; others eyed an ice cream truck parked in the parking lot. Children ran under a makeshift sprinkler. Music pumped loudly out of a speaker system.
This was the scene at the New Haven Youth and Recreation Department’s second Family Fun Day of the summer, held last month at Ross Woodward Classical Studies Magnet School in the city's Hill neighborhood. Dozens attended the multi-hour affair, braving the summer heat to play in the sun—and the shade.
Top: The trailer from On The Spot entertainment. Bottom: Friends Yariam Wilkerson and Alise Dolphin-Sessions.
Outside the school, a trailer from On The Spot entertainment beckoned. Inside, multiple screens hung nearly on a wall, and on the opposite side of them, there was a line of seats. Children held consoles, playing various video games. When asked, owners and brothers Jamel Linen and Adrian Pate, said that it was an easy yes for them. Their trailer has made an appearance at each Family Fun Day event.
At a table nearby, Bee Bhavanaben and her young son Om strung beads quietly, choosing each bead carefully from a red container that sat on a long table. Every so often, Bhavanaben chose a few beads from a blue top that was taped on the table. Bigger containers were set up along the tables, filled with beads and spools of string falling out.
Nearby, friends Yariam Wilkerson and Alise Dolphin-Sessions chatted and strung beads. Dolphin-Sessions showed off one of her creations proudly on her wrist.
Top: The water slide in action. Bottom: Many Donuts' Anita McLean and Cedric Emery.
Across from the table, to the right, kids of elementary school age bounced loudly and peeked through the black mesh of a bouncy castle and water slide. A tent perched above the entrance of the castle, to provide shelter from the sweltering sun. Representatives from the Youth & Recreation Department hosed off the waterslide every once in a while.
The Many Donuts team—the sweet small business venture is only a year old, and co-owned by husband and wife duo, Anita McLean and Cedric Emery—was frying up and giving out donuts to attendees who stopped by their tent. It’s truly a family affair: 17-year-old Kamiyah Emery was also helping around their tent.
“She’s the mastermind behind most of the flavors!” Cedric Emery said with a laugh.
This piece comes to the Arts Paper through the summer extension of the fifth annual Youth Arts Journalism Initiative (YAJI), a program of the Arts Council of Greater New Haven. Read more about the program here or by checking out the"YAJI" tag. Makeda Murray is a rising junior and is homeschooled.