A family and children-centric event drew thousands of parents and kids to the Tucson Convention Center June 24 and 25.
Tucson’s iHeart Radio and Tucson Electric Power’s Tucson KidsFest, an event touted for kids of all ages, drew more than 6,000 attendees in the two days that featured games, attractions and Disney Channel celebrities Debby Ryan and Peyton List, both from the Disney Channel show “Jessie,” according to an iHeart Radio official.
“As a parent, you just run out of things to do with your kids in summer in Tucson,” said Steve Earnhart, the vice president of sales for My 92.9 radio station. Earnhart said he wanted to do one remarkable thing with one flat fee, he saw an opening and took it.
Upon entering the convention room at the TCC, attendees were immersed with music and sound that would normally greet you at a county fair. Game stages and overhead speakers filled the indoor event with music. The convention room was split in two, with live DJs spinning their own tracks to entertain the bustling crowd.
Families waited in line for rides, games and face painting. Booths like the large enclosed area for Tucson Comic-Con brought out characters like Spider-Man and Odette the Mermaid who posed for photos with kids and families. Kids climbed, wandered and held their parents’ hands; movement and music were everywhere.
Kids could ride a Ferris wheel that seemed to stretch high up to the ceiling. Saturday, when attendees were encouraged to dress up as either princess or pirate, offered themed rides including a pirate-themed pendulum. Kids could go down numerous inflatable slides, play laser tag, watch a BMX show or even meet one of the stars from Disney’s “Jessie.”
Each day had a different theme. On Sunday, they dressed as their favorite superheroes.
Some booths used these themes to draw people nearer. Employees at TEP’s kids and parent zones wore tiaras and pirate hats and dressed as Batman and Harley Quinn. Bookman’s Entertainment Exchange helped with a mask-making contest.
Celebrities Ryan and List held VIP and public Meet N’ Greets.
KidsFest encouraged kids to work out, practice safety, and socialize while giving parents a day of air-conditioned entertainment for their children.
Between Saturday and Sunday, 6,262 Tucsonans flooded into the Tucson Convention Center.
“In a perfect world, there would have been 8,000, but we definitely proved the event [was] popular enough to do it again next year,” Earnhart said.
Jane Bendickson is a rising senior at City High School in Tucson. Bendickson served as a mentor for the Dow Jones Journalism Diveristy Workshop at the University of Arizona School of Journalism. Bendickson also wrote for Bear Essential News as a Young Reporter.