OCEANSIDE — “It’s all about the kids,” is how most attendees described the fourth annual Dia del Nino (or Day of the Child) celebration held at Joe Balderrama Park on April 25. The day celebrated children and community with all the things little ones love to do. A bounce house, climbing wall, comic boxing demonstration, and game of tug of war were a few of the activities kids and families enjoyed.
“It’s good for the kids,” Tony Gonzalez of Oceanside said. “Too bad its not every Saturday.”
Dia del Nino is a grass-roots celebration planned and heavily attended by Eastside residents. “It grows and grows every year,”
Maria Russell, Eastside Neighborhood Association member, said.
An estimated 1,000 people attended this year.
The event helps connect residents with community services. Vista Community Clinic, Oceanside Public Library and Oceanside Police and Fire departments, were among the community service groups that handed out coloring books and stickers to children and information to parents.
“We want to inform our community of all the resources we have,” Russell said.
Police and firefighters were on site to help build stronger community relations. “We want to interact with the kids in a positive way,” Officer Laura Flinn, with Oceanside Police Department neighborhood policing, said.
Community police officers are familiar faces at Joe Balderrama Park, often patrolling or joining in a game of kickball with neighborhood kids.
Russell hopes the annual Dia del Nino event will allow people to get to know the Eastside community and dispel the “bad rap” the “Posole” neighborhood has due to gangs in the area.
“We want everything for the next generation like any community would want,” Russell said.
The Eastside Neighborhood Association works to empower community members, develop a positive relationship with community police and reduce alcohol and drug use.