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Walk to School Day goes on despite rain
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Students and parents walk along Riverside Drive towards Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy while participating in the annual Walk to School Day Wednesday morning. - photo by Tom Reed

Early Wednesday morning, more than 30 kids and their parents paraded down Enota Avenue under the cover of umbrellas to participate in international Walk to School Day.

Despite the rain and a brief power outage at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy, parents accompanied their children to school by foot for the academy's fourth annual Walk to School Day.

Established in 1997 to promote physical fitness, Walk to School Day has expanded to include about 3,000 participating schools across the country as well as schools in Canada and the United Kingdom.

Katherine Edwards, 7, is a second-grader at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy and said her favorite part of the morning was walking to school with her classmates.

"I was excited about it except for the rain," Edwards said.

While Enota Parent and Teacher Organization coordinators hoped for 300 elementary school students to participate in the morning walk, the rain pared the group down to a small but valiant crowd.

Parents and students met at the Gainesville Elk's Club on Riverside Drive at 7 a.m. and walked the few blocks to the school after electricity was restored at 7:30 a.m.

Darrell Snyder, Georgia Power area manager, said Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy was one of 1,700 customers in the Blue Ridge Drive area of Gainesville that lost power from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.

Snyder said equipment on a power line pole failed due to a squirrel interfering with an electric protective device.

He said all customers' electricity was up and running again by 7:30 a.m.

The walk concluded with Gainesville Mayor Myrtle Figueras and Gainesville Councilman George Wangemann joining kids at the Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy cafeteria for a breakfast of whole grain cereal and fruit.

This year, Janet Roland, parent of two Enota elementary school students, participated in the walk with her kids for the third time.

"My kids love it. They always want to walk to school, but we don't live close enough to do it," Roland said. "I think it shows cooperation with your school and the importance of being physically fit. Also, it shows we don't always have to go somewhere in your car."

Cindy Edwards, president of the Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy PTO, said she thinks it's important for her children in kindergarten and second grade to take part in the annual walk to school to keep their minds on outdoor activity.

"It's a great way to encourage healthy living habits in the face of childhood obesity," she said.

Enota student parent Dede Leckie said an unintended benefit helped rouse further support for the event.

"Plus it saves gas and cuts down on pollution," she said.

Susan Culbreth, principal of Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy, said the power outage before the 7:45 a.m. start of school caused the school's bus riders to be temporarily diverted to Fair Street, Gainesville and New Holland elementary schools.

Culbreth said about half of the school's 700 students were delayed in their arrival to school as school officials waited for power to be restored.

All bussed students were in class at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy by 8:30 a.m., she said.

By mid-morning, school officials had called the parent of every absentee student to inform parents that power had been restored and school was back in session.