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Portage heroes engage in child’s play

January 7, 2019 GMT

When Portage Police Officer Cameron Coronado’s radio squawked Saturday morning, he was relieved that the call was for an incident outside the city limits.

That meant he didn’t need to respond. Instead, he could stay in the Portage Public Library’s children’s area, and finish his game of Spoons.

The library’s first-Saturday-of-the-month family event, for the first month of 2019, was called “Community Hero Family Game Day.”

Dawn Foster, youth services librarian, said the intent of the event was to offer children opportunities to play familiar games or learn new ones, and to connect them with “community heroes” — the kind of heroes that don’t wear capes.

And as one of the guest heroes noted, community heroes don’t all wear police uniforms either.

“My kids thought they’d be playing cops and robbers,” said Andrea Langan, a nurse practitioner who was one of the guest heroes. “I told them it wasn’t that kind of game day.”

The heroes included adults from all walks of life, including Mayor Rick Dodd; the Rev. David Hankins, pastor of Portage Presbyterian Church; Portage Community School Board member Matt Foster, Dawn’s husband; Jesse Spankowski, the city attorney; and numerous others, including teachers and health care professionals.

There were, of course, plenty of uniformed police officers, including Police Chief Ken Manthey and Police Lt. Richard Hoege.

In most cases, the adult heroes circulated from game to game, as did the youngsters.

At first, Dodd played Spoons, and told the children at the game table that the object is to move cards quickly from one player to the other, until one player gets four cards of the same value and gets to pick up a giant-size colored plastic spoon.

“Remember,” Dodd said, “if you pick up a spoon and you don’t have four of a kind, you lose.”

Matt Foster stayed for the duration at a cribbage board, where 11-year-old Jairus Dadam was giving him a run for his money.

“Please, deal me some good cards,” he implored when it was Dadam’s turn to deal.

From time to time, children and adults playing games such as Yahtzee, tic-tac-toe, ring toss, Uno and Go Fish turned their heads away from the game to watch the tumbling blocks from a giant game of Jenga.

When Dodd played Jenga — and got the tower to a height of 32 blocks — 5-year-old Asher Dadam made no secret of his hope that the tower would crash down, and soon.

It wasn’t long before he got his wish.

Dawn Foster noted that the children’s section of the library holds family days on the first Saturday of every month, and for the next one, she recommends active wear.

That’s because the event, scheduled for 10-11 a.m. Feb. 2, will focus on fitness, and include activities such as yoga and Zumba dancing — followed by nutritious snacks.