Focus on Fostoria - June_8_03

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Fostoria Focus|
June 8, 2003

Annual Veterans Picnic Held in Tiffin
By Leonard Skonecki

"Of course we take reservations. A table for 600? Why certainly we can handle a group that size."

Well, it took more than one table, but the annual Veterans Picnic for Hope and Opportunity went off once again on May 23 for the students of the School of Hope in Fremont and the School of Opportunity in Tiffin.

The picnic is a cooperative effort of all the veterans posts in Seneca and Sandusky Counties. It goes back a long way. It was originally hosted by the Basic Co. of Bettsbille, but the veterans assumed responsibility for it around 20 years ago.

The picnic is normally held at Eells Pak in Bettsville, but was moved to the School of Opportunity due to cool temperatures and damp grounds.

The Schools of Hope and Opportunity provide education, training, employment and other services for persons with mental retardation and developmental disabilities.

Altogether the 600 students, family members and staff had hot dogs and other traditional picnic food. There was also lots of entertainment - face painting by Melissa and Barb Reinhart, music by DJ Roadrunner (aka Ora Mae and Dick Meggitt of Green Springs) and fire truck rides courtesy of the Roppe Corp.

This year the picnic committee president was Cliff Cockie of Fostoria's American Legion Post. The long-time secretary-treasurer was Thelma Littler.

Thelma said she has been filling that job for the last 15 years, but this will be her last as she says it's time for someone "younger" to take over.

"My daughter likes the picnic," she said. "She comes every year. I see a lot of people, a lot of friends. I've really enjoyed it. We can't do this alone. It takes everyone. I want to thank all the volunteers."

Clowns Gabby and Roadrunner have been a picnic fixture for eight or nine years. They always time their return from winter in Florida to be at the picnic. But sometimes even clowns are serious.

"It's a pleasure to be here. We see how they progress from year to year," Roadrunner said. "Lots of the people have graduated and have jobs. It's sure a blessing compared to how it used to be. You see places like this and you don't mind paying your taxes."

Of course, clowns wouldn't have much to do if they were serious all the time. Gabby had a joke.

It was appropriate to a veterans picnic since it was a patriotic joke:

What do you get if you cross the lord of the jungle with the American flag?

Tarzan Stripes Forever.

(Cliff and Thelma and the rest of the picnic committee want to extend their thanks to all the volunteers, businesses and organizations who supported this year's picnic,)