Open House, Then and Now

Did you bring along a frog for the frog jumping contest? Would you let us blind-fold you, while you try to drive a golf cart with only a child to guide you?

If you attended Coyote Hill’s very first Open House type event on October 23, 1999, those were just a few of the unexpected questions we may have asked you when you arrived! We entitled that event, “Fall Family Festival.” No matter the name, it’s still the annual event that, for 20 years, has been allowing the community to spend an afternoon on site with us, having fun and getting to experience the “Safe Place to Be a Child” that your support creates.

Although many traditions have changed over the past 20 years, there are a few that remain constant. Showing our appreciation to the community and our supporters by feeding them a free lunch continues to be a part of the celebration. Hayride tours continue, year after year, as well as lots of family-friendly fun!

A few things we did in 1999 might surprise you. A square dance? We did try it for that first event, along with some other first-year only activities. For instance, a neighbor’s borrowed golf cart became a contest where an adult driver was blindfolded, while a child sat beside them and gave them verbal instructions for driving through a course of orange cones. Also, children were encouraged to bring along a frog or turtle to the event, so they could participate in a frog jumping contest or turtle race. Families worked together as teams on some activities, such as trying to roll a large round bale of hay from one spot to another. Other activities were designed especially with the children in mind, such as the gunny sack race. Then there was an activity typically only children enjoy, but we turned into an adult competition, as tricycles were lined up and adults competed to see who could be the first to pedal them across a finish line.

A few of our long time staff tried to remember that first event, 20 years ago. Site Director Bill Atherton (who was a Home Parent in Cathy’s Home in 1999) states, I remember a hay bale rolling contest, the golf cart contest and doing the activities out in the field that is now Foutz Field.  We did kickball or something involving kicking a ball, because I have a distinct memory of kicking it so hard that both of my feet flew out from under me and I landed on my back!”

Our Executive Director’s wife, Denise McDaniel, recalls, We served hot chocolate and caramel apples all afternoon. It was quite chilly that day, so they were a hit!

“We gave tours of the newest home, which was The Zimmer Home, and hayrides around the property. During the hayrides, we always explained and showed people where we dreamed of building more homes someday.  I was often the tour guide for those hayrides, which have been a part of our Open House activities since the beginning.  It’s a great, fun way to show folks around the property and share the dream and vision of Coyote Hill. 

“It was a busy day but I remember thinking it was so fun and successful!” 

Now, 20 years later, we hope you’ll make plans to join us for another fun afternoon at our annual Coyote Hill Open House event on Sunday, September 8. Nowadays we won’t ask your children to bring along a frog or try to make you ride a tricycle. We simply ask that you join us, have a free lunch, and enjoy an afternoon of family-friendly activities!