Businesses across Tracy will throw open their doors to children next week for a day of fun activities and treats in memory of a little girl who died too young.
Tracy Celebrates Children returns Monday with free martial arts lessons, fingernail painting, ice cream, a safety fair with police and firefighters, and many other offerings.
Realtor Janet Anderson founded the event to commemorate the birthday of her young second cousin Sandra Cantu in 2010, a year after the 8-year-old Jacobson Elementary School student was kidnapped and killed by a neighbor.
“Even though a tragedy happened and we will never forget that, I think what really makes Tracy so unique is that the legacy that that this has left is a positive thing for the next generation of children, and I am very proud of that,” Anderson said. “I had no idea that when this started that it would have been so well received. It makes me real proud of our community.”
About two dozen businesses across Tracy will take part in Monday’s event, hosting activities for children age 12 and younger between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m., and Anderson said the list is still growing. Families can find the updated schedule online at www.tracycelebrateschildren.com.
“I hope they take away what an amazing community we have and what a giving community,” she said. “This event would not be possible without all of these businesses that give up their time, they open up their stores, or they entertain us and they’re giving up their time and proceeds to give back to our community’s children.”
Last March, Anderson said she intended for the 10th event to be her last, though she hoped someone else would keep it going. She said Wednesday that she had been persuaded to take the lead for one more year before passing the torch.
“I almost thought it had been 10 years and maybe it’s ran its course, in the sense that the community had been so giving with the tragedy of Sandra that maybe it was time,” she said. “But after reconsideration — because many of the businesses were like ‘No, please don’t let this go away.’”
After this year, a local nonprofit will take over.
“Luckily for our community, Sow A Seed (Community Foundation) — that organization that gives back to children, which I think is a perfect fit — has stepped up to the plate, and they are willing to facilitate and coordinate Tracy Celebrates Children to keep it going for the future,” Anderson said.