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Fourth Street Family Fun Fest highlights area businesses

DeKALB – Matt Duffy hopes the Fourth Street Family Fun Fest reminds people that there are businesses on south Fourth Street in DeKalb.

"This used to be a vibrant area," said Duffy, DeKalb Chamber of Commerce executive director. "There's a lot of great businesses here. People may not drive out past here on their way to or from something, and they may not think about this area. But they're here."

The Chamber of Commerce hosted its second annual Fourth Street Family Fest on Tuesday, with 17 businesses running booths in the DeKalb Education Center parking lot at 901 S. Fourth St., passing out freebies and offering children's games. City officials also provided an ambulance, snow plow and fire truck for a touch-a-truck area in the lot.

Duffy said he thought it was important to host the event again this year, as more than 600 people attended last year.

"It's just a fun family event," Duffy said.

Carrie Zack, of DeKalb, received a flier from the DeKalb Park District that included information about the festival, so she decided to bring her daughter, Alyssa, 5. Alyssa said she liked eating the cookies.

Other children tried out the DeKalb Fire Department's fire safety trailer, which the department recently acquired for public education. Children could climb in the trailer, which was designed to look like a home, to learn about fire safety. As theater smoke poured in and the smoke alarm went off, children were taught how to safely exit and find their meeting spot.

"We can pretend it's a sleepover, or adapt the story for different age groups," said fire Lt. Mike Thomas. "We can let kids know what to expect with a fire. It's a big hit with the kids."

Children from the Children's Learning Center, 905 S. Fourth St., manned a lemonade stand to raise money.

"We want to go bowling," said Merilyn Gomez, 11. "Bowling is fun."

The group has participated in other field trips this summer, but head teacher Christine Herron said they were challenged to raise some of the funding for the bowling trip.

"We're going to have a great time," 9-year-old J.R. Castellanos said.

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