LIMA — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center Park became a party, concert hall, church and game show Saturday when droves of people came for the WOW Jams.
“If you want to win a bike, let me hear you scream,” yelled Stephen Tavani, of W.O.W International.
And the crowd did scream and not long after Tavani gave away the first bike of the day. A set of dishes followed. And next a contest to win a stereo. Four youth battled by seeing who could scream the loudest with marshmellows shoved in their mouths.
Cornerstone Harvest Church sponsored Saturday’s event, bringing it back to Lima. Tavani and wife, Linda, started W.O.W International 20 years ago. The organization plans and sponsors the “Winning Our World” festivities.
“We want you to feel like a winner today,” yelled Stephen Tavani, a singer, songwriter and producer.
Linda Tavani has sold more than 9 million records as “Peaches” in the group Peaches and Herb. The two took the stage together Saturday and then sent volunteers out into the crowd to give away free downloads of their newest song.
Denicquae Spence danced to the music with her family. A few minutes earlier four huge beach balls were sent out into the crowd. Like many, Spence could hear the music from her nearby home, so walked over.
“It is something fun to do to get out of the house,” she said.
At the center of the day’s fun was a message of God’s love. Much of the music had religious themes and Stephen Tavani often stopped giving out prizes and entertaining to tell people to raise their hands and say “I am special because God made me.”
Families got free food and children played in bounce houses and got their faces painted. A line of children waited to get their bikes fixed. LaTavion Lucas, 8, got a new inner tube for his bike.
For mom, Mushie Lucas, the day was a good way to spend time with her son and try to win some prizes. She tried hard but fell short of catching a free football and water balloons filled with money
“Everybody can come together here and do something together,” she said. “And it keeps people out of trouble.”
Not everyone cared about the prizes. For China Shorter, who came with her 8-year-old son and other family members, it was about enjoying the music and to “praise the Lord.”
“I did not come to win,” she said. “I came just to enjoy the day and show our city and community some support.”