Environmental Factor, July 2010, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Celebrating Friends and Family Day
By Laura Hall
Friends and Family Days have always been hot, but this year's event on June 23 broke the record for NIEHS. The blistering 99 degree heat and Code Orange air quality - unhealthy for sensitive groups - resulted in the cancellation of the afternoon softball competition and drove many of the contests indoors. Nevertheless, the sweltering heat did not stop the fun - or the celebration of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage.
NIEHS/NTP Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., welcomed the celebrants and explained that this year, Friends and Family Day was combined with the NIEHS Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month commemoration. She urged the attendees to sample the ethnic food, view the exhibits, and enjoy the music of the traditional Japanese Taiko Drummers, as well as take part in the games and play.
Birnbaum also cautioned everyone about the heat. "It's so hot today. It is also a Code Orange day, which means you shouldn't exert yourself too much outside," she said. However, no degree of heat was going to stop the popular cake walk.
While the 23 cakes remained cool inside, the many contestants walked on the patio under tents hoping they would win one. The game is somewhat like musical chairs - music is played while the contestants walk around over numbered patio paving squares. When the music stops, those on numbered squares have a chance to win a cake if the number they are standing on is the same one pulled out of a container.
Outside, the children enjoyed the sprinkler and wading pools of water. The goose egg hunt was open to adults, but eagle-eyed children found the eight plastic eggs hidden in the bushes within the planters surrounding the patio. Each child won a prize and uncovered a fact about the lake. At the lake itself, catch-and-release fishing was the featured activity.
There were also booths for face painting, party hats, and the Environmental Protection Agency, which, ironically, displayed electron microscope pictures of various air pollutants.
The competitive spirit came out in the bingo games as well as the limbo and hula hoop contest. Gary Bird, who emceed the contests, also encouraged people to take part in karaoke. In all, there were many happy prize winners.
(Laura Hall is a biologist in the NIEHS Laboratory of Toxicology and Pharmacology currently on detail as a writer for the Environmental Factor.)