SWARTZ CREEK (WJRT) -
(05/30/14) - The twenty-ninth annual Hometown Days celebration is underway, and it's become a Friday morning tradition that thousands of kids are ready to roll out of bed for.
"I was here at like 5 with nothing better to do, so ready to rock and out here to have some fun," said James Loney, Swartz Creek resident.
For the ninth year in a row, Swartz Creek Hometown Days opened its carnival at 6 a.m. for a few hours of free rides and elephant ears.
"Kids talk about it from the beginning of the school year. Heck, they get done with this today and they'll be talking about it next year," said Alex Cohoon, Swartz Creek resident.
The festival staff was a little surprised at just how many people turned out.
"I think it's bigger every year, 3,500 to 4,000 kids come out for this event, and with no school going on, it's even bigger," said Brenda Huyck, Hometown Days vice president.
As the crowds continue to grow, so does the amount of work - but you won't hear anyone complaining.
"We do it because there's a need to have something like this for the people who can't afford to come on another night," Huyck said.
Hometown Days runs through Sunday, and features a parade, Swartz Creek Idol and its largest fireworks show yet - along with a few first-time attractions.
"We have the Victor Ten family show, we have the Whispering Pines Exotic Animals exhibit, and we also have a new ride, which is called the 'freak out,' that Arnold's Amusements have brought us. It's its first time in Michigan," Huyck said.
Hometown Days continues to be a major fundraiser for Mid-Michigan charities. Since this event first began, it's managed to bring in more than $1 million.
"We have Children's Miracle Network and Restoration Place, the Food Bank, Hurley Hospital. We have so many that we give 10 to 15,000 throughout the year, and it's a wonderful program that we like to do to give back to the community," Huyck said.
For a schedule of Hometown Days events, click HERE.