More than 4,600 members of the school safety patrol in Hillsborough County took a break from their duties Friday.
They were treated to food and fun at Medard Park as a "reward for working so hard for us," said Buckhorn Elementary Principal Tami Brooks, who headed up the annual Mark Dafeldecker School Safety Patrol Picnic.
Dee Ramsey, a guidance counselor at Summerfield Crossings Elementary, said the picnics are a welcome perk for patrol members, who each day help ensure the safety of fellow students.
"This is something they really look forward to every year," she said.
Darcy Fetcher, 10, a safety patrol member at Lake Magdalene Elementary School, showed off her skills at a hula hoop competition. She won one phase of the contest.
"I got it all on video," said Teaghan Moore, 11, who is also a Lake Magdalene Elementary patrol member.
The picnic, which has been held about 20 years, is named in memory of a Northwest Elementary School principal who before his 2005 death was a major supporter of the safety patrol.
"It was very near and dear to his heart," said Brooks, who organized this year's picnic at with a committee of other elementary school principals.
School safety patrol members, all fifth-graders, perform a number of duties at the county's 146 elementary schools, such as helping fellow students get on and off buses, keeping order in the halls and escorting special guests on campus.
Friday's picnic included demonstrations by such agencies as the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and Fire-Rescue. There was also a parachute demonstration by para-commandos from U.S. Central Command.
Jennifer Brathwaite, a writing resource teacher at Tampa Bay Boulevard Elementary, said the safety patrol members from her school enjoyed the day – particularly the treats.
"They liked the snow cones. They liked anything sweet," Brathwaite said.