There were 506 of them, kindergarten through fifth grade. And each athlete marched onto the playing fields west of Eyestone Elementary School in Wellington on the morning of May 4 to the sound of martial music and carrying a tiny American Flag, for all the world like a crowd of Olympic athletes. Many wore red, white and blue. They formed a long single line and then sat down on the slightly damp grass forming row after row in front of the podium. It took a while for all of them to be seated.
When they were, the ceremony began. Fifteen war veterans mounted the stage, took their places and shared their names and service—from World War II to Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm. A contingent of three from Colorado State University Air Force ROTC presented the colors. A slight breeze blew but the early morning chill had dissipated and the sun shone brightly, the sky a classic Colorado blue.
The kids got very quiet. Julia Kirkwood, a Cache La Poudre Elementary School fourth grader sang a sweet, clear rendition of the national anthem. Many placed their hands over their hearts.
Students presented banners with “fairness,” ”respect,” and “responsibility” printed on them and spoke a few words about the importance of these qualities.
And then the games began. Twenty-six stations, spread across the broad expanse of playing fields offered more fun and games than any kid should expect in the course of a single day. There were relays, hurdles, running races, a mystery box, synchronized sponges, a tricycle race, water spray golf and a saw horse set up to allow a couple of kids to try to knock each other off onto a big squishy mat.
And at every station there were volunteers. Twenty-five Air Force cadets from CSU who been helping with set-up since 5:30 a.m, grandparents who came from Berthoud to help out, and a couple of Wellington Middle School students at every station as well.
An “Athletes’ Village” booth offered drinks and snacks and became a popular spot as the day went on.
In her opening remarks, physical education teacher and Field Day organizer, Sandy Fetzer, expressed her joy at the balmy weather. “We’ve been waiting for this day for so long and have been hoping for sun—and yes, today we have it.”
The layout, the visitors, music, volunteers and equipment, only Fetzer knows the time and effort it takes to put on this event. And in the end she was no doubt tired, but filled with the satisfaction of creating a special memory for a whole lot of children.