Bubbles and good cheer filled the air at Lylahpalooza 2015 on Sunday at Schlanger Park.
The festival is named after Delylah Harris, a little girl who passed away from a congenital heart defect in November 2013. With her legacy still thriving, Delylah’s parents organized Lylahpalooza every year on her birthday to help raise funds going towards medical bills of local children suffering from severe illnesses. She would have been three this year.
Delylah’s mother Leslie Harris said the event went well, raising more than $8,000 for the four families being helped this year.
“That’s just $5 at a time from entry fees, little by little it all adds up,” she said, adding the silent auction alone netted about $2,000. “We had an amazing turnout. We had hundreds of people in attendance.”
This year’s festival included several kid-friendly activities. Children could choose to launch paper rockets, play putt-putt golf, bowl with plastic pins, throw hacky sacks and much more.
While the kids enjoyed playing the games, a DJ was playing a random mix of music throughout the whole event. Some of the songs included “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, “If you’re Happy and You Know It”, “Hokey-Pokey”, “La Bamba” by Ritchie Valens, and even “Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer.
This year’s festival also featured three clowns who made balloon swords for the children and across the street from them, in front of the Schlanger Center, was a petting zoo. Kids were allowed to pet animals like a camel, a tortoise, a donkey, a pony, goats, a rabbit and even a skunk.
Children weren’t the only ones having fun though, parents, like Sarah Schiefelbein, enjoyed spending a warm and happy day with their kids knowing that their involvement was benefitting other kids who are less fortunate.
“I know Leslie and we came out to donate to these four other families that have kids struggling with different medical issues,” Schiefelbein said. “It’s a great turnout this year, I feel there’s something here for everyone.”
Other people like Louise McFarland commend Delylah’s parents for keeping the tradition alive every year.
“I just think it’s honorable that they continue doing this in memory of their daughter, but they’re helping other children,” McFarland said, “that to me is commendable. It takes a lot to be able to do that.”
Harris said it was an emotional day for her but “you just keep moving forward to make sure it goes well.”
She said they sold out of t-shirts within the first half hour of the event, but will be taking orders until mid-week.
Harris also thanked the community for their support.
“It was nice to see all the support, not just of us but the other four families,” she said.
This year, Lylahpalooza is helping four area children, ranging from an infant to a teenager.
At only four months old, Samuel Brooksher, of Pittsburg, KS, has been diagnosed with prune belly syndrome, hydronephrosis, and a dysplastic kidney. Abel McRay from Parsons, KS, was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) and received a heart transplant under the age of one and continues to struggle. Brooklyn Tilley, age three, was diagnosed with Stage 4 kidney cancer, which has spread to both of her lungs and small intestines. Her father is a Girard native and currently lives in Oklahoma City where Brooklyn is receiving chemotherapy. And then there’s Shelly Mallams, a freshman from Girard, who had a malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor and now has to undergo 31 rounds of radiation and at least six rounds of chemotherapy.