The theme was 40 Friday at the Pittsburg Community Child Care Learning Center, with 40 balloons launched at noon in observance of the facility’s 40th anniversary.

The theme was 40 Friday at the Pittsburg Community Child Care Learning Center, with 40 balloons launched at noon in observance of the facility’s 40th anniversary.

The center, at 109 W. Third, was started as an effort by the First United Methodist Church and was first located there.
Diana Carter, retired special education teacher, served on the committee that started the center.

“We needed a day care for parents who couldn’t afford what some parents could, so we got on it,” Carter said. “Mary-Kate Sulllivan was very involved and really pushed for it. Three or four years later I was center director for a couple of years. I’ve had a grandchild go here and now I’m on the board of directors again.”

Lorene Hoffman, current director, has been on the job for the past 29 years.

“We’re also blessed to have staff who have stayed a long time,” she said.

After all these decades, the center has become a tradition in some families.

“We’ve had children of children attending, and I’ve had some who came here as children who have worked for me after they grew up,” Hoffman said.

In addition to the balloon launch, held on the center playground, the anniversary celebration also included decorated cake and a special visit by Gus Gorilla.

“Children also brought 40 items to count,” Hoffman said. “They brought things like cereal, pieces of candy, dry macaroni and pretzels.”

Everyone also wore special anniversary T-shirts, created by Janet Lipscomb and First Edition Screenprinting. Lipscomb has a very personal interest in the center.

“My daughter, Sophie, has been here for a little over a year and absolutely loves it,” Lipscomb said. “She has so much fun, is learning so much and has made so many friends. On the weekend, Sophie will wake up and ask if it’s time to go to school, and I have to tell her no, she’ll have to wait until Monday.”

On Friday Sophie and the other children seemed especially impressed by the big hairy visitor from the jungle.

“I think Gus is the biggest hit of all,” Lipscomb said. “He’s a pretty popular dude and they must be pretty special here for him to take the time to come.”