By ALISSA SCOTT
Recorder News Staff
Excitement and the temperature were both high Friday afternoon, as members of the community gathered at Shuttleworth Park for the seventh annual ParkFest.
Dan Nelli, assistant general manager of the Mohawks and organizer of ParkFest, said the popular event is geared toward bringing the community together for a family-fun day during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
"We're just trying to make it a fun atmosphere, very family- and community-oriented," Nelli said. "That's a big thing of what we do down here is just the getting the family and kids together."
Nelli said he excepted at least 3,500 people to be throughout the park for the event and that it should be a good time, "even though it's 95 degrees," he joked.
The weather held off long enough for a few thousand fest-goers to enjoy various activities in the lawn and wooded area behind the field.
Aiden Coupas, 9, who visited the event for the first time Friday, shouted when he won a prize at a "Guess Your Speed" pitching game. On the third pitch, he predicted he would throw the ball at 36 miles an hour and he was right.
Nicholas Brown, 11, whose face was painted to look like a skull, said he's been coming to ParkFest every year "just to have fun." He said he's been enjoying all the bounce houses and was looking forward to climbing the rock wall.
Ahead of him in line, Addison Mae Bell, just 3 years old, didn't bat an eye as she got strapped into a harness and reached the 12-foot mark on a rock climbing wall.
"I'm a proud mom," her mother, who said she wasn't nervous, said. "Always proud."
Not far away, artist Carol Jordan, dressed in overalls and a flower-embellished straw hat, drew caricatures of Locust Avenue residents and sisters Alexis and Kaitlyn David.
Their father told them they'd get a frame for the drawing Saturday, of which the girls described as, "oh my God, so cute."
As Aaliyah Quinones, 6, grabbed a helmet and jumped on the back of a pony named Cinnamon, her mom waited with her younger brothers who were also eager to pet the ponies, if not ride them, too.
"We've been here before," her mother said. "She really liked it."
After Quinones got off the horse, she attempted to express her excitement between bouts of giggles.
"They're so pretty," Quinones said. "I love them."
Attendants could also feed carrots to Lion Head rabbits, knock each other over with a blow-up wrecking ball and get their faces painted.
Fans ran to the grandstand's overhang to take cover as a brief thunderstorm rolled into the area. Amsterdam Mohawks players ran to cover the pitcher's mound, but only for 10 minutes before the rain subsided and fans returned to their seats, applauding the storm's end.
"Where else can you get a group of people who don't know each other to stand together, smiling in the rain?" Eric Simonds, a Mohawks fan, said during the storm. "Only in American baseball."