Cloudy skies and morning drizzle were no match for the thousands of people who arrived at Mission Viejo High School early Saturday eager to “Walk Against Drugs.”
Sporting red T-shirts and a desire to make a difference, more than 3,000 people rallied against drug abuse at this 24th annual Walk Against Drugs. The event, which highlights National Red Ribbon Week, brings together City leaders, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, schools, businesses, community groups and residents to celebrate living a healthy lifestyle and staying away from drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
Keynote speaker Peanut Louie Harper, a former professional tennis player, kicked off the rally encouraging folks to find their passion and focus on achieving their goals. Woven into her message was the importance of family togetherness and support. Katherine Cotter, this year’s winner of Mission Viejo’s Got Talent, followed with a rousing rendition of “Astonishing.”
The walk then led the crowd of red-clad participants down La Paz Road, through the Oso Creek Trail, to the community fair on the Village Green at Oso Viejo Park, where there was entertainment, games, crafts, obstacle courses and activity booths sponsored by Mission Viejo school clubs and nonprofit youth groups. The Rotary Club served up free hot dogs, while Rubio’s gave away chips and salsa and Chick-fil-A dished out chicken nuggets. Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour treated the crowd to free ice cream. The Whiplash Kids Band and Consensus Rock Band jammed on stage and many enjoyed salsa dance, a karate exhibition and local vocal talent.
The day also marked the 5th anniversary of Supervisor Pat Bates’ South County Disaster Expo. County and emergency agencies displayed information and vehicles provided goodies, emergency kits and more. The expo featured an earthquake simulator, a lift truck and realistic mock injuries at the Community Emergency Preparedness Academy booth.