One local church wants to help area residents say goodbye to summer with a free event Saturday, featuring games, water activities and even a man-made "beach."
Heritage United Methodist Church is hosting Wipeout, an end-of-summer event to start the new school year off right, said welcome minister Becki Kneeland.
"We always try to do something in the fall to get the community together," Kneeland said.
Open to the community, the event will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at 1604 Pointer Trail across from Van Buren High School.
Activities during the event include face painting, balloon animals, a surfboard simulator, dunk tank and water balloon launching.
Two water slides also will be in use for the event, one inflatable and one homemade by some of the church’s own youth members, Kneeland said. Beach blanket Bingo will be held inside the church.
About 28 tons of sand are being hauled to the church to create a sandy "beach" for kids and adults to get that last feeling of being at the ocean. Those attending are encouraged to bring a beach chair or blanket.
Music will be provided by Uncle Sam’s DJ with a free concert from Shadow Box Puppets, Kneeland said.
A car and motorcycle show, with "hot rod" and antique cars, also will be held during the event, and anyone who wants to bring vehicles to "show them off" is welcome, Kneeland said.
Three local food vendors - Stirred Not Shaken, Molly’s Eggrolls and The Pizza Place - will be on site, and Citizens Bank & Trust Company is providing free hot dogs for the kids.
Heritage held a similar event about three years ago, and had more than 500 people attend, Kneeland said. The Wipeout event is themed after Acts 3:19:
"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…"
"It’s all about a brand new start," Kneeland said. "Anytime you start a new calendar year, a new school year, it’s a brand new start."
A church service in that same theme will be held Sunday, Aug. 24.
"We serve a God who’s all about brand new starts - the God of second chances, I always say," Kneeland said.