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Officials watch over Day of Fun

Elijah Simmons, III
Tina Watkins, Virginia State University fire safety officer/code enforcer stands outside of her work vehicle at VSU on April 10, following the Magic City Amusement Day of Fun.

The sun beamed down on Virginia State’s Daniel Field as students gathered for the Magic City Amusement Day of Fun in early April. The event started at noon, but for the people behind the rides and entertainment, their work started many hours prior. 

“To come on campus just as the trucks arrive, I don’t know what time they’ll come, so I’ll come to work as early as 7:30 a.m. and just wait to see them pull up,” said Tina Watkins, Virginia State University fire safety officer/code enforcer.

Before and during the event, Watkins checked inspections for the rides and vendors, as well as made sure that fire-safety regulations were met.

“I have to make sure that your rides that are coming on campus are compliant, your food trucks that are coming on campus are compliant… because if something happens to a student and they’re not insured, then that’s a lawsuit,” Watkins stated.

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VSU booked Entertainment Avenue, a company based out of Southern Maryland.

“We have to typically leave the shop by 6 a.m. … and after that, it is typically about a two-hour, 45-minute drive for us from where we’re located to you all school,” said Jamal Wharton, crew chief and event supervisor for Entertainment Avenue.

A Virginia State University student takes his turn on the mechanical bull ride at the VSU Magic City Amusement Day of Fun on April 9, as an Entertainment Avenue crew member watches over his safety.

Once on campus, they worked alongside VSU’s safety officers to properly set up each attraction. Wharton said that following inspections, the rides took nearly an hour and a half to put together; however, more work followed.  As the Day of Fun began, Watkins, Wharton and their respective crew members’ work continued. 

“I treat them (the students) like they’re my children,” Watkins said. 

“Safety is big with us,” Wharton added. “That’s the main reason why my guys are always at their rides, and if they’re not at their ride, then we’re not opening that ride for the moment.”

Evidently, the efforts to keep the event safe did not go unnoticed.

“I feel very safe,” freshman Damierah Walker said. “There’s a lot of people around. There hasn’t been any conflicts, and there’s also a lot of cops around. So just knowing that they’re there, it makes me feel safe.”

“Every day on this campus, I connect with the minds of the future, and that’s what keeps me going,” Watkins said.

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