Hundreds of children and their parents lined up to sled, roast marshmallows and enjoy winter in the South – snow and all – at Lakeside Baptist Church’s Presidents Day outreach Monday.
“We call it our Snow Day outreach because all the kids are out of school,” said Ray Henderson, the youth pastor.
Crews transformed 12 tons of ice into a powdery snow that blanketed the hillside outside the Clearwater church. At the very top sat a wooden cross.
In addition to bounce houses, face painting, food and music, the day’s events included a Gospel presentation led by Henderson.
“He’s got a real burden to be a blessing (to) the community,” said the Rev. Tad Marshall, the church’s pastor.
That’s why Melissa Jenkins showed up at the celebration with her 8-year-old son, Jack.
“We come a lot to the church because they do a lot for the community,” she said. “This shows the kids that people really care.
“It’s not just about getting you to come to church, but getting to know you as neighbors.”
Monday was the first time the church has held a Snow Day event, said member Sharon Gregory.
Her daughter, Klaire, was one of the first to take a spin on the sledding hill.
“It was awesome. I spun around a few times,” said Klaire, 9.
Rick Kruzner also took a ride, but he did it barefoot.
“I lost a bet,” he said.
For more than 30 years, Kruzner explained, the teenagers at Lakeside Baptist have participated in a Bible quiz.
The young people compete with the adults, and after the teens won the quiz, 4-1, this year, Kruzner agreed to go sledding in just a T-shirt and shorts.
“It was exhilarating, to say the least,” he said.