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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Kids ran through the barricaded areas of a street to play large-scale tic-tac-toe and paint their faces with rainbows, horses or flowers.

Gainesville's National Family Week began at the community plaza on Northeast First Street on Sunday.

Fifty-two vendors participated in the local event, which was organized in support of National Family Week, an event that began Thanksgiving week.

Dana Bobb of the Partnership for Strong Families organized the event for the second time this year.

Participating vendors included 98.5 WKTK, the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, Gainesville Fire Rescue and a UF mentoring club.

Three Gainesville Fire Rescue trucks formed the backdrop of the "Kids Firefighter Combat Challenge," a miniature version of their annual strength and endurance challenge.

Kids competed side-by-side in the event by operating a small fire hose, which was used to knock a cone off a plastic crate.

After running along a marked path, they picked up a 5-pound sledgehammer and used it to move a wooden block across a metal track.

Finally, the kids dragged a plastic 10-pound dummy across a finish line.

The children then traded their firemen's hats for an engineer's hat and climbed into a train.

A man, clad in blue-striped overalls, drove a modified tractor, which pulled 10 converted apple-cider-barrel cars in and out of the parking lot.

Steve Crawford, the tractor driver, built the faded blue, orange and gray train, and he and his wife and train travel the state to participate in family-related events.

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"This event was created to promote and help rekindle families," Bobb said. "We want to honor and celebrate families as well as celebrate organizations in our community that support them."

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