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'Firefighters, cops and kids ... it's just a great thing' 1,500 turn out for Du Quoin back to School Bash

  • Du Quoin Police Officer Josh Cushman enjoys a pink Popsicle at the Back to School Bash Friday evening.

    Du Quoin Police Officer Josh Cushman enjoys a pink Popsicle at the Back to School Bash Friday evening.
    Holly Kee photo

  • Scott Vaughn, left, and Chris Robinson, right, present the Fireman's Choice to Darrel Copus for his 1955 Chevy at the car show, part of the Back to School Bash.

    Scott Vaughn, left, and Chris Robinson, right, present the Fireman's Choice to Darrel Copus for his 1955 Chevy at the car show, part of the Back to School Bash.
    Devan Vaughn photo

  • Even though the skies threatened rain, about 1,500 people filled Keyes Park to enjoy activities, food, and music at Du Quoin's Back to School Bash Friday evening.

    Even though the skies threatened rain, about 1,500 people filled Keyes Park to enjoy activities, food, and music at Du Quoin's Back to School Bash Friday evening.
    Holly Kee photo

  • Scott Vaughn, owner of Du Quoin Auto Service, held a car show Friday evening, raising nearly $500 for the Du Quoin Shop with a Cop program.

    Scott Vaughn, owner of Du Quoin Auto Service, held a car show Friday evening, raising nearly $500 for the Du Quoin Shop with a Cop program.
    Devan Vaughn photo

 
BY HOLLY KEE
hkee@localsouthernnews.com
Posted on 8/13/2019, 2:07 PM

DU QUOIN -- The second year of Du Quoin's Back to School Bash was another success.

About 1,500 people showed up to Keyes Park Friday evening for the event that included something for everyone.

"The community has bought into this," said Mayor Guy Alongi. "It's not cheap but it hasn't cost the taxpayers anything."

Alongi said that donations totaling around $4,500 rolled in from various businesses, organizations and individuals, enabling the Bash to be free to families.

"Fair Foods has been phenomenal," he said. "They donated all the hot dogs and buns."

Other major refreshment donations came from Pepsi MidAmerica and Modern Woodmen.

With an hour still left in the event Friday, Alongi said organizers had gone through about 1,200 sodas.

Du Quoin police officer Josh Cushman was enjoying a free Popsicle. "Chief Ingram gave me this," he said with a grin. "I told him my favorite color was purple but he gave me pink."

Cushman, who has been on the force for three years, said he loves the event.

"This is a great cause," he said. "You've got firefighters, cops, and kids ... the whole community. It's just a great thing."

Master Sergeant H.P. Baxter of the Illinois State Police agreed. "This is a well-attended event. They (kids) can come out here and have one last party before school starts."

Latoya Johnson said her two children were having a great time playing on the inflatables.

"This is very good for the kids," she said. "It makes them go back to school with a smile on their face."

Alongi said the event was expanded this year to include the high school football, cheer and dance teams, since local football is a big community draw.

"Du Quoin is 'Friday Night Lights' here in southern Illinois," he said. "The team got new uniforms. They came out and were available for pictures with the little kids who look up to them."

The Bash is also the final place where residents could donate items to help families who don't have very much. Last year Du Quoin collected backpacks but this year they decided to collect personal hygiene items.

"There are other outlets for (backpacks)," Alongi said, "but it's unreal how many kids don't have access to even soap."

He said they had collected over $1,000 worth of personal items at City Hall. The bounty will be delivered to the schools, where teachers and administrators have a better idea which kids are in need.

Scott Vaughn, owner of Du Quoin Auto Service, ran another successful car show at the Bash, raising nearly $500 for the Du Quoin Shop with a Cop program.

Five winners were named for the show. The Firemen's Choice went to Darrel Copus and his 1955 Chevy. The Police Choice went to Keith and Kent Norris and their 1947 Oldsmobile. Mike Logsdon and his 1952 Chevy pickup won the EMT Choice. The Teacher's Choice went to David House with his 1955 Chevy and Drew Stephens and his 1973 Ford Maverick took home the Kids' Choice.

State Rep. Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) came to the fair and commended the community event.

"There is something for everyone," she said. "The car show is good for the older folks, giving them a chance to go back and reminisce. Now the music," she said grinning, "the music is clearly for the younger folks."

Bryant said offering citizens a chance to "come out to a local park and enjoy various activities, especially when it's free," is a great community bonding experience.

"It's a really good time and we're happy to be here tonight."