Relay for Life to hold carnival event Saturday

By David J. Coehrs -

A restructured Relay for Life event is coming to Homecoming Park in Wauseon this Saturday, with hopes to raise enough proceeds to smash the organization’s 2021 goal.

A Family Fun Day will be held from 3-10 p.m., with food, drink, arts and crafts, a kids’ area, a Chinese auction, and the traditional luminaria ceremony at dusk. Amanda Bird, Relay for Life co-event lead and public relations chair, said while some familiar parts of the annual event will be missing due to COVID-19 restrictions, families can still enjoy a day of entertaining activities.

“We’re going to make it more like a carnival,” she said.

Usually held in June, Relay for Life’s annual two-day fundraiser was canceled by the American Cancer Society both last year and this year due to the spread of coronavirus. The organization nixed all in-person events until the end of July, according to Bird.

When the opportunity to hold a fundraiser became available later in the year, “We had to completely restructure. It’s been several months in the making,” she said.

Attractions such as the typical live auction, the book sale, and the Miss Relay contest were scratched. So have the overnight accommodations, which became problematic now that cooler nighttime weather has arrived.

However, the event leaders have retained at least six vendor booths selling drinks, hamburgers, hot dogs, and brats, the usual Chinese auction, and crafts and baked goods for sale. And new items will include a s’mores bar, a photo booth with props, interactive video games, and an activity area for kids that includes inflatables.

Another new feature will be motorized carts decorated as animals that guests can scoot around on for a $5 donation.

Four of a Kind Entertainment will provide a DJ to pump out tunes, and raffles will be held throughout the day.

Cancer survivors will still participate in an opening ceremonial walk, and the traditional luminaria ceremony will be held about 8 p.m., when the luminarias will be lit and the names of cancer victims are read. Luminarias will be available for $10 each throughout the day; already, 400 have been sold, double the amount sold in 2020.

The luminarias will be set aside during the event in an area “where people can visit and reflect and have their moment,” Bird said.

Following the evening ceremony, glow sticks and glow necklaces will be sold, with buyers being encouraged to dress in costume or silly outfits for the occasion and walk around the event, collecting donations. “It’s the same as Miss Relay, just a little bit different spin,” Bird said.

The Relay for Life Family Fun Day will be spread throughout Homecoming Park to allow for social distancing. Guests are not required to wear masks but may choose to do so. Sanitizer will be available at areas throughout the event.

Bird said the goal is to reach Relay for Life’s 2021 of $60,000. The organization is only $5,000 from that goal after raising money through sponsorship and fundraising, “but we’re hoping for significantly more than that,” she said.

There was initial talk of canceling the event this year, but the organization was intent on moving ahead, no matter how difficult.

“We elected to push it out so far (in the year) so we could still have something,” Bird said. “We didn’t want to go without doing nothing at all. At the end of the day we knew the cause was more important than anything. We encourage everyone to come out, bring their kids.”

By David J. Coehrs

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.