Kevin Barnett didn’t know his father. That’s why he’s working to set a different example for his own kids.
On Sunday, the 36-year-old and his wife, Evette, took their kids – Laquan, 11 years old, and Daeyon, 7 years old – to Hyatt Park for Mayor Steve Benjamin’s inaugural Father’s Day cookout.
“(We’re) starting a new trend, a whole different, new trend,” Barnett said.
Barnett wasn’t the only parent at the park using the day to make memories and build traditions. Tia Rice, 29, brought her two youngsters, John, 9, and Jiniah, 5, to meet up with their father.
Rice isn’t together with the kids’ father, she said, so getting together at events such as the cookout lets them work together for the good of the children.
“We’re co-parenting right now, so this is a great spot to meet,” Rice said.
For many families, the cookout gave busy dads a chance to spend with their kids. Melron Kelly, deputy chief at the Columbia Police Department, brought his son, Myles, 6, and his daughter, Morgan, 5, out to enjoy the bounce house before visiting their grandparents.
“This is the busy that you look forward to when you’re not working,” Kelly said. “Rolling on the floor or (being) out at a park with my kids is something I don’t – a lot of times – get to do, because of my schedule.”
Finally, for some, the event was a fun way to continue an existing Father’s Day tradition. Gregory Torrales, 49, said he likes to spend Father’s Day outdoors at a park, so he brought his daughter Sofia Rose – who’s 1-and-a-half years old – to the cookout.
“There’s nothing better than to share with other dads as they bring their kids out,” Torrales said.
The cookout ran from 3 to 7 p.m., and included music and games, plus hamburgers and hotdogs courtesy of Sysco food distributors.