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Youth Center Plays Host To Festive Game Night
GAME Chess
Escalon High School sophomore Jake Dietzel, left, and Escalon Community Ambulance staffer Jonathan Tribble square off in a game of chess, with plenty of onlookers, at Friday nights First Responders Game Night at the Escalon Youth Center. Marg Jackson/The Times

The first of several special events was hosted at the Escalon Youth Center on Friday night.

It was a time for the community’s First Responders to come together with teens and youths, playing pool, video games, chess, sharing snacks and just having the time to visit in a relaxed atmosphere.

The goal was to see the kids interact with police, fire and ambulance personnel in a ‘non-emergency’ situation.

It proved to be successful, with many games going on throughout the center, some basketball outside and plenty of conversation and laughter.

“Right now I’m busy with soccer,” admitted Escalon High School junior Diego Salcedo, “but before that I came about three times a week.”

Once the soccer season is over, he anticipates getting back to the youth center on a regular basis. He enjoys pool, foosball and video games.

“I like playing pool with my friends,” agreed junior Armando Gonzales.

The two were getting ready to face off with Police Officer Matt Price and Escalon Community Ambulance’s Vanessa Herrero in a friendly game.

Elsewhere, an intense game of chess drew an audience, watching sophomore Jake Dietzel and ECA staff member Jonathan Tribble square off.

Seventh grader Tommy Martin enjoys the video games and the food, while sophomore Eli Simoes said he visits the youth center as often as possible to enjoy the games and the atmosphere.

Barry Rogers, a senior currently on Independent Study, said the Game Night was a good idea.

“I think it’s really cool, I love seeing the people,” he said of the mixture of youth and emergency services personnel.

Former Escalon Police Chief and now council member Walt Murken said he and his wife Debbie volunteer at the youth center on a regular basis and he was glad to see a good turnout on Friday night.

“It’s a great idea and they did a really good job,” he said of organizers. “It’s important to let the kids see our first responders outside of their jobs.”

Next up, a Video Game Tournament will be hosted this Friday, Feb. 17 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. The video game tournament is open to ages 12 to 17. Prizes will be awarded to the finalists and semi-finalists.

Also, the Youth Center will host a Recyclable Drive on Saturday, Feb. 25 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“We are asking all the residents of Escalon to help support the youth center by bringing by their recyclables, cans and bottles, to the Escalon Youth Center from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.,” said organizer Todd O’Neill. “If you would like to have your recyclables picked up, please call the Escalon Youth Center at (209) 691-8191 any day from now until February 24.”