Detroit Tigers mascot Paws, students and Royal Oak firefighters celebrated walking to school Thursday morning.
The 12th annual Royal Oak Firefighters Walk to School began at 7:45 a.m. at the Walgreen store, located at 1815 Rochester Road, and collected children along the way to Oak Ridge Elementary School. Organizer, Cary Thompson, a Royal Oak firefighter paramedic, estimates 400 people participated in the one-mile walk."We're trying to encourage the kids to stay safe walking back and forth to school," Thompson said. "And we're also trying to remind the drivers to watch out for the kids as they are driving back and forth to work."
Thompson, a resident of Dearborn, was joined by his 10-year-old daughter Katie.
"This is really exciting for me because it's the first year I convinced one of my own children to walk with me," he said. "Katie never wants to miss school, but this year she said she would do it."
Thompson said the event also tries to emphasize the health benefits of walking.
"We like that this event promotes exercise and being outdoors," said Jason Parrott, Principal of Oak Ridge Elementary. "We like the healthy benefits part of it, but I am not going to lie, there are doughnuts at the school when the students get there!"Parent Krista Malinich walked with her fifth- and second-grader.
"We've done the walk most years," Malinich said. "We have great weather today. I think they should do this everyday."
The walk emphasizes the great partnership between Oak Ridge Elementary and Fire Station #3, which share the southeast corner at 13 Mile and Rochester roads, according to Royal Oak Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin, who greeted the students as they arrived.
"Oak Ridge really embraces this annual event," Lewis-Lakin said. "This is a great example of the community/school partnership that makes Royal Oak a great place to live, work and learn."