Rooster and I joined out ABATE friends for a Strawberry Festival and Tiny Tots adventure on a hot summer day. We helped kids ride a tiny motorcycle around a ring to promote motorcycle awareness. #motorcycle #Strawberry Festival #Kokomo #Indiana #Tiny Tots #Wild Wings #strawberry shortcake #ABATE
Strawberry Festival and Tiny Tots
Festival season is in full swing in Indiana. Hoosiers put on these events with various themes such as fruits and vegetables, ethnic origins, music, or historical events. The weather is getting warm outside.
We’ve been cooped up for a long cold miserable winter. It’s time to celebrate whatever happens to strike our fancy and gives us an excuse to be outside. Some of these festivals can be corny while others can have a serious theme. Rooster and I work the Tiny Tots booth every year at the Strawberry Festival.
The city closes the square in Kokomo, Indiana for this event. Vendors roll their trailers into the downtown streets lining the courthouse and set up shop for the day. A stage where local musicians share their talent with festivalgoers is located on the northeast corner of the square.
Anyone willing to pay five dollars for strawberry shortcake is served a good-sized portion of the treat. The proceeds go to a local charity. There’s an old-fashioned dunking booth where you can pay a dollar to drown a person courageous enough to volunteer to get wet for the cause.
The bookmobile shows up to promote literacy. Food trucks set up to sell their specialty along the square. Delicacies such as kettle corn, elephant ears, and corn dogs are available for purchase at what it would cost to go to a restaurant for a fancy meal. The highlight of the festival for Rooster and I is the Tiny Tots motorcycle adventure the local ABATE group puts on at the event.
How does Tiny Tots work?
The Tiny Tots course is set up like a small racetrack on the outer edge of the Strawberry Festival. Soft black and white barriers constructed to prevent a small rider from crashing show the marks from previous out of control riders. Small motorcycles with training wheels are available for children to ride. There is no cost for a kid to participate. The only rules to join in the ride is a parent must sign a waiver giving permission for the Tiny Tot to ride.
For safety purposes, no open toe shoes can be on the rider’s feet and every participant must wear a helmet. Rooster and I work the sign-in table. We’re too old to chase kids around the black and white barrier ring. (Although, we have a friend named Theo who is in his seventies. He loves to work Tiny Tots. You will find him teaching junior riders how to navigate the course from morning until night.) Rooster and I headed for downtown Kokomo as soon as we got off work.
New recruits arrive
There were about ten A.B.A.T.E. members who’d operated the Tiny Tot ride since eight that morning. They were happy reinforcements showed up on the scene. Rooster sign in the future bikers of America while I fastened helmets on tiny heads. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. Some of those kid’s heads were much larger than they looked. It was hard to get the chinstrap fastened when one of those kids got the wiggles.
We weren’t working long before my granddaughter, Stephanie, got there. After a little training, she was helping guide the tiny riders in a circle around the track. My daughter Marci and her husband, Jeff, were the next members of our family to arrive. They brought Stephanie’s boyfriend, Gabe, with them. In a matter of minutes, there were three generations of our family helping the children in our community to an adventurous experience. I hope we carry on this tradition.
Who is Lynn Anderson?
Lynn Anderson, the Howard County ABATE Rep, is a big supporter of the event. Every year you will see her and her husband, Bret, working hard to guide tiny riders around the small track. They are great proponents for promoting motorcycle safety. There are several reasons A.B.A.T.E. puts on Tiny Tot events across the state of Indiana.
The first is to give kids an exciting motorcycle adventure. These children will wait with a helmet on their heads in the heat for their turn to take a spin around the small oval track. I’ve watched their eyes light when they climb on the bike. The second reason is to promote motorcycle safety from an early age.
Importance of motorcycle awareness
The third and perhaps the most important reason is to heighten awareness of motorcycles sharing the road with more traditional vehicles. The most common response drivers make after they collide with a motorcycle is, “I didn’t see them coming.” This even occurs when bikers have their headlight turned on and are wearing colorful clothing to make sure they stand out on the road.
People who have a relationship with motorcycles tend to watch for them cruising down the street. I’ve heard Lynn suggests numerous times parents play a game when they’re traveling in the car with their kids. Instead of Slug Bug play Slug Bike.
Every time a motorcycle is spotted, the first person to see it should yell out “slug bike.” Instead of pointing out license plates from a different state, you could give your kids points for recognizing different brands of motorcycles. (Yes, there are more makes and models of bikes on the road than Harleys.) This would teach awareness at an early age. You wouldn’t have to train your children about sharing the road with motorcycles when they turn sixteen and learn to drive.
At the end of the day
It was a hot evening with high humidity. I must have strapped helmets on the heads of at least a hundred sweaty kids. We were grateful for the occasional gust of wind. Eight o’clock rolled around.
Everyone was happy to load the trailer and call it a day. We went our separate ways as soon as the trailer was loaded. Rooster and I strolled toward where we parked the Sunshine Mobile when we heard music drifting from an alleyway between a local restaurant and the brick building beside it. A stop for food was the next thing on our agenda, so we decided to give Wild Wings a try.
The place couldn’t be all bad. They have a picture of a chicken flying a plane on their door and a sour-faced one on the menu. We had a considerable wait to get our food, but we were pleased with the salads we ordered. The ingredient, which made our visit memorable, was the band they had playing in their outside seating area. Money $hot Tucker had an amazing sound. Many of the songs they played were original compositions.
Rooster and I aren’t night owls. We’re more the get up at the crack of dawn with the chicken’s type of people. By the time we unlocked the door the night of the Strawberry Festival, we were ready to climb into bed. Anyway, a couple of the old farts who tried to act like a pack of twenty-year-old youngsters, so I’m certain they will be sore in the morning.
The amazing things I saw
These heroes spend the entire day in the heat walking with the motorcycles the tiny tots were riding to make sure they are safe while they are on the track. A.B.A.T.E. members must have superpowers, but that is just my opinion on the subject. Therefore, I wouldn’t want to give any of their secrets away. I saw some amazing things while attending the Strawberry Festival. For instance, I saw a dog who found a use for a fire hydrant other than a bathroom.
I saw tiny tots who conquered their fear and walked away with newfound confidence. I witness a group of people sacrifice their time and energy for the children of the next generation. It turned into the kind of evening which can leave you grateful your family and friends are people who care and work for the good of others.
Who is Molly Shea?
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana, who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures click here.
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