Dave Rogers

For The Record

 

Deputy John Badeaux can’t remember how many years he’s helped organize the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Cops N Kids Picnic.

He just knows “I have adults bringing their kids now that attended Cops N Kids when they were kids.

“They tell me, ‘I just want them to experience Cops N Kids like I did.’ It’s a great time.”

The 23rd annual Cops N Kids Picnic is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at Claiborne West Park.

Admission, rides, games and lunch are free.

“We’re trying to bond the children with the law enforcement community and the firefighter community,” Badeaux said. “That way, even if they’re in a strange town, they’ll think of the police or fire fighters as their friends.”

A year ago, about 2,300 youngsters attended with their families or daycare groups, Badeaux said.

He’s expecting several groups of more than 100 kids this week.

And why not?

More than 60 activities are planned for the youngsters’ entertainment.

There will be horse-drawn wagon rides, kiddie train rides, a petting zoo, four Super Slides, one Moonwalk, two cotton candy stands and a snow cone booth.

And that doesn’t take into consideration the free lunch of hot dogs, chips, drinks and watermelon and all the free games and prizes.

All area law enforcement will be represented, some offering tours of their vehicles.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office will have its personnel transport carrier and several boats on display. Orange Police Department will have its SWAT vehicle, both Southeast Texas Air Rescue and Acadian Air Rescue will bring helicopters and there will be as many as a dozen fire trucks from county departments.

The Texas Forest Service is bringing a bulldozer and other forest fire gear. The U.S. Coast Guard will show off some of its local fleet.

Gator Country will bring its alligators and critters.

Texas Parks & Wildlife will have a booth. The Orange Lions Club, H-E-B, Sabine Federal Credit Union, Home Depot and Texas Road House are among local businesses that will offer games and prizes.

Sheriff Keith Merritt and his staff will be even offering golf-cart rides from faraway parking spots for the elderly or those with mobility issues.

“Come out,” Merritt said. “It’s fun when you see the kids interact with everything. We couldn’t do it without the help we get from a lot of different agencies, a lot of different vendors, a lot of county employees.

“It’s a very special event.”