By EMMA BARTLETT
Miniature ponies and donkeys. Horse carriage rides. A chance to see Cali, the Cranston Police Department’s therapy dog. These are a few of the many exciting activities …
By EMMA BARTLETT
Miniature ponies and donkeys. Horse carriage rides. A chance to see Cali, the Cranston Police Department’s therapy dog. These are a few of the many exciting activities Cranston’s police department has planned for its spring festival on May 14.
Captain Justin Dutra, who leads the department’s newly expanded community outreach and special projects division, said the division has been looking for ways to raise funds for different nonprofits and causes, which led to the idea of hosting a large festival. After looking for a venue that was centrally located and where traffic would not affect commercial businesses, the police department chose to host the event at the rear of 100 Sockanosset Cross Roads not far from the fire station.
Detective Mike Iacone introduced the department to Deb Wood from We Be Jammin Events – an organization which helps different municipalities put on events to raise funds; Wood helped to logistically bring everything together.
Currently, there are 95 vendors scheduled for Saturday’s event. There will be horse and carriage rides, face painting, balloon animals, rock climbing, a mime, a play area for kids up to three years old, craft tables and a wood carver who will be carving on site. Additionally, there will be an inflatable archery setup and miniature ponies and donkeys that kids can interact with but not ride. The Falconettes and Westernettes will be present and Gene Massa’s Bandemonium – All Star Jazz Band will provide musical entertainment.
With everything from goat soap to candy apples when it comes to vendors, Dutra said there will be various law enforcement vehicles on site including police cars and motorcycles. The department will have K-9 unit demonstrations where an officer dresses up in a bite suit and shows where the dogs’ do their bite work.
Iacone said Cali will be riding around the event like a princess and greeting everyone. Cali is Rhode Island’s first police therapy dog and there are now six or seven other departments within the state that are developing their own Cali program.
Various agencies and businesses will be present at the event including Gateway Community Health, CCAP and the Hope Initiative who are the department’s community partners and address opioid crisis, mental health and quality of life issues. Dutra said he thought it was important to have the community partners at the event to show the services they can provide to residents and Cranston visitors.
As for food, there will be hot dogs, hamburgers, pulled pork, stuffed baked potatoes, lemonade, ice cream, chocolate, sweets, popcorn and kettle corn.
Iacone said since people have been stuck in the house for the last couple of years, and the spring festival is a time to bring the community together and have a positive interaction with law enforcement since they haven’t gotten the best media attention over the last couple of years; the hope is to break stigma and barriers.
“This is an opportunity to show people what we’re doing,” said Dutra, mentioning that people should feel free to bring up any issues they have or get to know the officers in their community by talking with them.
The department will be selling its cause patches with funds going directly to the community outreach and special project’s nonprofit. The department is revamping its autism registry and people can fill out an Alzheimer's ID, autism ID, lost children ID or Dementia ID at the festival so the police department can have the information on hand if they are responding to a person’s house who has some kind of disability; the registry is free of charge.
Dutra said the only cost associated with the event was for advertising which included five banners that cost $500 and came out of the department’s community outreach budget and the payment for two police details who will assist with traffic.
The spring festival will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 14. The jazz band will play from noon to 2 p.m. There will be a karate demonstration from 2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Miss Rhode Island will be there from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Carolyn Dutra Dance Studio will be present at 2 p.m. There is no cost for admission or parking. There will be parking onsite with designated handicap parking areas.
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