RUMFORD — Five-year-old Bryan Morton of Rumford was one of several children who received free bicycle helmets on Saturday at the annual Mountain Valley Kids Fest Child Advocacy Day hosted by the Rumford Eagles.
Morton patiently waited in line with one of his biking buddies before Laurie Soucy of Regional School Unit 10 took him to her side of the helmet table and wrapped a cloth tape measure around his head.
The RSU 10 Wellness Team provided the helmets.
“I’m happy to see all the kids” who came out, Soucy said.
As she fitted Morton first with a silver headpiece, the boy’s mother, Brianne Morton of Rumford, watched and smiled.
“He’s riding a bike with no training wheels,” she said. “He learned how to ride a bike when he was 4 years old and it took him to do it before his 6-year-old brother would try it.”
Soucy switched to a red helmet because the other helmet was too loose. She told Brianne that the red helmet fit better but Bryan would likely grow out of it in a year.
The youngster then ran and got his flashy green bicycle to participate in the next part of the bicycle safety rodeo — riding a chalked figure-8 in the parking lot.
Children were asked to pedal and steer their bikes around the figure, staying on or as close to the marking as possible.
Inside the Eagles clubhouse, Rumford police Sgt. Douglas Maifeld gave bicycle safety talks to children, many sporting their new helmets.
When he wasn’t doing the talks, Maifeld and Patrolman Eric Richard conducted the police department’s Child Identification Program, scanning children’s eye retinas which are then transmitted to a national database.
Four-year-old Julian Deroche of Mexico sat in a chair in front of a device that resembled large binoculars. Maifeld told him to look into the lenses and Richard, operating a laptop, photographed Deroche’s eyes.
Richard put the boy’s age, height, weight and other identification data into the program, then Maifeld used a mini-cam to photograph the child’s face and the procedure was complete.
When an amazed parent watching the process asked Maifeld if the iris scan technology was better than fingerprints, the sergeant said yes.
“Iris scans are more unique when compared to fingerprints,” he said. “There are 12 times as many identifying marks with the iris than with fingerprints and no two eyes are alike.”
By about 10:45 a.m., Maifeld and Richard had scanned the eyes of a dozen youngsters.
Nearby, athletes with the Greater Rumford Community Center gave demonstrations on gymnastics and karate in front of an appreciative audience of all ages.
Outside, a huge bounce tent donated by Todd Wardwell Lawn Care was the highlight of the day for several small children.
Troop 580 Boy Scout leader Richie Philbrick of Rumford watched the crowd and two of his Scouts who demonstrated how to cook a hamburger meal and boil an egg in a paper cup of water with charcoal and sand.
“Fred Allen (of the Eagles) has been doing this for many years and I think it’s awesome that they do this for the kids,” Philbrick said. “We had a great turnout and what’s good about it is you’ve got all the organizations in town here.”