OPA-LOCKA — Bicycles, dolls and games were among the surprises in store for Opa-locka children when Vice Mayor Dorothy “Dottie” Johnson recently hosted the city’s 10th annual “Holiday in the Park” Toy Give-Away on the grounds of City Hall.
The city’s Parks and Recreation Department and schools helped with pre-registering parents and their children for the toys give-away at the event which also included free food, rides, arts and craft activities, a visit by the Game Xcite Mobile Unit, rock climbing and souvenir photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
An ice-making company piled ten tons of artificial snow into a mound at the start of the event on the west lawn of City Hall, 777 Sharazad Boulevard. “Winter Wonderland” was the theme even in the 80-degree temperature.
Johnson said the “snow” would be a unique experience for children who have never experienced a white Christmas. The kids made use of the opportunity by frolicking in it and throwing “snowballs.”
The city distributed about 500 Christmas gifts to the children during the give-away and bicycle raffle, according to spokeswoman Christina Gordon.
The lucky recipients included the Paz kids — Franklin, 8; Xavier, 6; and Yaniella, 3 – who were accompanied by their mother Christina Paz. They won bicycles during the drawing.
Supporters of the event dropped off toys at the Parks Department, including representatives of the Udonis Haslem Foundation, Lawrence Wright & Partners, Citrin Financial & Insurance, Waste Management, Greenspoon Marder, P.A., Auto Depot International and Michelle Village.
Members of the Black Global Bikers Association Inc. and the Miami Select Basketball Club were among volunteers helping to handout the toys.
Many youths who were not pre-registered turned out for the celebration and Johnson responded with an on-site registration, followed by distribution of teddy bears and other toys with help from the Opa-locka police department.
The event also benefited adults, who were provided with information on city services, such as billing hardship, public safety, recreation schedules and recycling timetables, at 12 booths.
Photo: “Mrs. Claus” (Sherine Bullock) and Riana embraced as they prepare for another “Holiday in the Park!”