Many of the people who gathered at a Soldotna church parking lot on Wednesday came to the same conclusion — it was cold.
“It’s a little chilly, but once we start walking, it will work,” said Joyce Mullican, who brought her grandson, 5-year-old Draiden Mullican, to the event.
They were just two of the about 150 parents, guardians and students who bundled up to walk to school together in Soldotna.
For the first time in the more than decade of participating in Walk Your Kids to School Day, which was held about a week before the international day in an effort to avoid even colder weather, three elementary schools began the morning together.
Soldotna and Redoubt elementary schools and Soldotna Montessori Charter School students and their guardians met at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Soldotna for hot cocoa, muffins and prizes before walking to their schools.
Sharon Hale, who was previously a parent liaison with Redoubt Elementary, has been organizing the event for years along with Jane Fellman with Safe Kids Kenai Peninsula Coalition.
Hale said they decided to have all the schools meet in the same place, so that everyone knew where to go and because the schools don’t get together often.
Ronny Simmons and his daughter, 6-year-old Alexis Simmons, attended the event for the first time. Simmons said they are trying to get involved in any events they can at Soldotna Elementary.
“There are more people here than I expected,” he said.
Christine Uribe took her six kids, four of whom attend Soldotna Elementary, to the event.
“I like to get them out to walk and they like the prizes,” she said.
Usually the family drives to school, but the choose to walk, if the weather is good, she said.
Amber Erickson and her daughter have previously participated in the event. She said it’s good for the kids to learn to walk to school safely.
“It helps her to learn to play safe outside,” she said about her daughter Mecenha Price, who is a fourth grader at Redoubt Elementary.
Mecenha enjoys the event because she gets some exercise in before the school day starts.
“It gets your body in shape before class,” Mecenha said.
While getting kids outside and getting a little exercise is good, making sure kids know how to get to school safely is a big part of the event, Hale said, who handed out reflectors before the walk began. Members of Central Emergency Services and two police cars escorted the students and their guardians to the schools.
Hale said the Soldotna schools started participating in Walk Your Kids to School Day about 13 years ago and that it’s an important tradition to continue.