The longtime law enforcement motto of “to protect and serve” was on display Saturday as the Montesano Police Department showed up in force to mentor some of the city’s youngest residents.
Hundreds of local children and their parents turned out for the police department’s annual bike rodeo and left with some important lessons in safety and a whole bunch of real cool stuff they can use on their future bike-riding adventures.
“This is really cool. This is our first year coming. It’s awesome,” said Aubrey Baier, while her 4-year-old son Rory was being fitted for a free bicycle helmet, one of more than 100 given away Saturday. “It’s his first helmet and he just learned how to ride his first two-wheel bike with no training wheels. He’s pretty excited.”
The kids also received draw-string bags full of bike rodeo-related swag that include combination cable locks, a water bottle, a bike safety book and Montesano Police Department trading cards. On top of that, there was free hot dogs and drinks for all the kids.
Most importantly, they got lessons in safety as MPD officers fanned out across the Montesano High School parking lot at various stations, where they were tutored in basic bike-riding skills and safety precautions.
“It’s to educate them about riding safety,” said police officer Nick Fosse, who was manning a station where young riders had to come to a complete stop and look both ways before moving on to the next challenge. “After a few times around (the course) they get the hang of it.”
At the end of the event, the 128 kids who registered had a chance to win one of 10 bikes raffled off at the event, which is funded purely on community donations rather than from city coffers.
Everybody seemed pretty happy with the results.
“No worries,” excitedly shouted one little girl named Lily to her bike-riding buddy. “I’ll have my training wheels off today!”