Quinn Buck, 3, was eager to show off her safety whistles when she got to the last station of the YMCA Water Safety Day, a pink one for herself and a purple one for her brother.
Quinn had received the whistles at the first stop of the drive-thru event Saturday in front of the YMCA of Douglas County in Roseburg.
Each visitor would receive a whistle, goggles, a rubber duck, sunglasses, a Frisbee, a life jacket and literature on staying safe in the water.
“It’s so important that we do this with our beautiful rivers and lakes,” said Gary Williams, who started the event when he was employed at the YMCA. “The only reason we’re here is safety.”
Williams retired from the YMCA after 21 years and a brief stint as the organization’s interim CEO in June 2020.
It was the 11th year the YMCA hosted a water safety fair, and the second consecutive year the event was held in a drive-thru style event because of COVID-19.
Williams said he hopes the event will return to the park next year, where they’ve seen crowds of about 450 people and are able to host some events near the water.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has been a part of the event since its inception and was on hand Saturday to hand out stickers, wrist bands and whistles.
Cody Brockelmeyer, the new CEO of the YMCA of Douglas County, was also at the event.
Brockelmeyer officially started in the new position Monday, but said he changed his flight so he could be in Roseburg on Saturday to be at the event because it’s something he believes in.
While a lot of younger children showed up, Williams reiterated that water safety is important for everyone.
The YMCA of Douglas County installed river rescue stations at popular swimming areas after two of its employees drowned in 2015.
“Those kids were great swimmers in tip-top shape,” Williams said. “It’s absolutely heartbreaking.”
Williams said the river changes, the rocks and branches move, there are steep drop-offs and the water temperature is often too cold to swim.
“Anything below 60 degrees is life-threatening,” Williams said, adding that the river temperature was 49 degrees on Friday after several days of warm weather.
If you have any questions regarding water safety, call the YMCA of Douglas County at 541-440-9622 between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.