EYOTA — Sunday was a perfect day for Barbara Fischer to bring her kids, Arianna Fischer, 12, and A.J. Fischer, 11, for a day in the park Sunday at Chester Woods.
Arianna had her face painted like a cat with painted black whiskers. A.J. decorated a gourd in rainbow colors.
“It’s just fun to play outside,” A.J. said.
The two children are wheelchair bound, so a walk in the park can be anything but.
Chester Woods staff and volunteers helped make the day possible by contributing their time to the annual Day in the Park. the event sets up activities and park tours for people with disabilities.
“This is our first time here,” said Barbara Fischer, of Stewartville. “We should have come out before.”
Volunteers helped with various activities, including games, balloon art, animal yoga, face painting and park tours. Members of the Eyota Fire Department and Eyota Volunteer Ambulance offered tours of their rescue vehicles and there was music by Gary Froiland.
“It’s really about seeing these folks smile and these children have fun out in the park,” said Celeste Lewis, Chester Woods naturalist and chairwoman of the Day in the Park Committee.
An accessible wagon took park-goers on a tour to the dam overlook.
For many participants, a close-up look at a fire truck was the highlight of the visit to the park.
“This is nice,” said Caleb Smith, of Rochester, as he climbed into the crew cab of Eyota Fire Engine 7.
“I’ve never been in a fire engine before,” he said.
Rodney Scribner, of Rochester, was more curious about the tools inside.
“Do you have Jaws of Life?” he asked Eyota Firefighter Jerry Pike.
“We have extrication equipment,” he said. “I can show you that.”
Dan Hamson, of Rochester, enjoyed his brief moment in the driver’s seat.
“I liked driving the fire truck,” he said, prompting some laughter from his friends.
“I mean, I liked pretending to drive,” he said with a laugh.
For volunteers, the event was a way to spread some happiness and help people enjoy the park.
“We appreciate being invited,” Pike said.
“We just like interacting with all the people who come here,” said Randy Wendt, of Rochester, who volunteered with his wife, Linda Wendt. “It’s fun to bring joy into their lives.”
Ahna Lewis, Celeste Lewis’ daughter, volunteered for face painting.
“It’s not that hard,” she said. “It depends on what (shape) you’re doing.”
Ahna painted a sun atop Gary Sample’s forehead.
Sample’s sister, Sue Kern, brought him and her son, Caleb Kern, to the event. She said it was clear the volunteers were having as much fun as those attending.
“You can tell those volunteers are glad to do the work,” she said.