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Fire Department hosts fundraiser

Justine Wettschreck/Daily Globe Worthington Fire Chief Rick Von Holdt demonstrated the aerial truck's capabilities earlier this week during the cruise-in on 10th Street in downtown Worthington. The truck will also be available for viewing during the fire department's annual fundraiser, which is from 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Centennial Park.

WORTHINGTON -- Every now and then, a child will walk up to Rick Von Holdt and demonstrate his or her ability to stop, drop and roll.

This might seem strange to some, but the Worthington Fire Chief takes it as a good sign. Kids are remembering who he is and what he and other firefighters have taught them.

At the Worthington Fire Department, early education and awareness is important. Showing small children what a fully dressed fire fighter looks like and sounds like can make the difference between a child who is scared and hides during a fire and one who knows the loud guy with the scary mask and funny outfit is there to help.

"We have about 300 kids a year come through our fire station on tours," Von Holdt said. "And we do fire prevention presentations in the classrooms. The guys here volunteer their time during the day to do that."

Time isn't all it takes. It also takes money. Coloring books, child-sized fire hats, handout materials, along with smoke detectors, batteries and fire extinguishers.

Saturday, the department will host a fundraiser from 3 to 8 p.m. at Centennial Park. The event will include inflatables for the kids, a pork burger meal, performances by Mr. Magic and the raffle of door prizes.

"I think we're also going to raffle off a couple of tickets for rides in our aerial," Von Holdt said. "I think we're also going to give away a couple of bicycles."

The Beach Nook, Von Holdt said, will be giving away ice cream. Several of the fire trucks will be on hand for people to check out, as well.

"We will also have a beer garden for the adults," he said. "It's a 'hang out in the park' kind of thing."

Early fire prevention awareness for pre-school and school-aged children is a serious subject, Von Holdt said, but time spent with the kids is also a lot of fun.

"You're doing good and reaching out to kids and they remember it," he said.