Youngsters cool down on a water slide during the Family First celebration at Cielo Grande, Saturday. (Mark Wilson Photo)
Barefooted children ran through the grass from bounce houses to the water slide as some adults kept away from the summer heat beneath any shelter they could find at Saturday’s Family First festival at Cielo Grande.
The event drew thousands to the park to play and listen to music, watch motocross and eat barbecue.
“This is something we do for the families of the community,” said Shawn Kelly, associate pastor of Church on the Move. “We just want to give people a day to come out and spend time with their families. We’d like to give our families in the community something wholesome to do.”
The event, formerly called “Unity,” has been celebrated for more than 11 years, Kelly said.
Organizers originally started the celebration to unite different neighborhoods throughout Roswell, he said.
Organizers expected some 10,000 attendees Saturday. Last year’s event had some 4,500 people show.
Events included blow-up games for children, free hamburgers, chips and drinks, a stunt show by the BMX team, “Outcast,” and a performance by the Christian rock band, “Abandon.”
“We just want to share the love of Jesus with people,” Kelly said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
The live stage began to liven up as the BMX stunts ended. Temperatures clung to the high 90s as the sun dealt a heavy hand to the crowd below.
Several event-goers wore yellow T-shirts with the black logo, “Family First, Supporting God’s Definition of Marriage and Family.”
Tracy Ornelas said she was enjoying the day and looked forward to hearing the band.
“Every year, they try to do something different,” Ornelas said. “It’s all free. It’s good family time.”
Debbie Mahoney, of Lovington, said she thought it was fun for the children.
“It’s awesome,” Mahoney said. “They talk about Jesus. The kids are having fun. I think they like the water the most.”