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Pujols Palooza Fall Festival
October 29, 2010
By Anna Jones
From Woody and Buzz to Batman and Batgirl, and even Michael Jackson, Albert and Deidre Pujols had the chance to mingle with quite a crowd on Friday, Oct. 29.
The reason for the gathering of super heroes and celebrities—the first annual Pujols Family Foundation’s Pujols Palooza Fall Festival.
Just two weeks earlier, Albert and Deidre had mingled with an older crowd of about 400 older teens and adults at just the same place, the Kemp Auto Museum in the Chesterfield Valley, for the fourth annual Autumn Prom. But this new night of crafts, games, food and candy was just for the kids, those ages 15 and under with Down syndrome, with about 100 children and their parents attending.
The Kemp ballroom, which featured vintage cars throughout, included a food buffet and Fazoli’s spaghetti bar, with all kinds of pasta sauces and the famous breadsticks, that all the kids seemed to devour, surprising more than a couple of moms and dads.
Just around the corner was a bounce house that was busy all evening and a dance area that had some of the older children moving and grooving. The Fazoli’s crew also hosted a number of crafts and games, and the Pujols Family Foundation’s High 5 group of about 18 young adults with Down syndrome also volunteered and ran a great pumpkin painting table.
“By having the High 5 volunteers be a part of the night, I think it was a great example for the parents of younger children to see,” says Jen Cooper, Pujols Family Foundtion program director. “They were able to see the potential for their children as they get older. Plus, I know that High 5 had an amazing time interacting with the younger kids.”
And judging by the spaghetti-stained smiles and marker- and painted-stained fingers, not to mention some sweaty little ones emerging from the bounce house, it was a great night of fun, likely followed by some little ones who slept well that night.
The evening also included valet parking and professional photography by Lace Images, just as is done at the prom.
But on this night, unlike prom and other Foundation events, both parents could come. And with the variety of activities to keep the little ones busy as well as the dinner, many parents had the chance to talk with old friends, get to know better some of the familiar faces and meet new friends and families as well.
“I loved seeing how everyone interacted with one another,” said Jen. “For me, our events are not so much about the specific activity that we are doing but what they mean for relationships within a family and within the community as a whole. I saw so many families getting a chance to talk to one another.”