NEW BREMEN — A local employer gave its clients the day off as part of an annual get-together on Friday.
Auglaize Industries clients feted the end of summer with an annual celebration, as they ate, played games and enjoyed each other’s company.
“This is our client appreciation picnic,” Director Greg Ferrall said. “We hold an annual client picnic, and we do a Christmas party also, which is the last Friday that we work in December.”
The picnic, Ferrall said, is a way to give back to the clients.
“It’s for us to say thinks to all the clients for the hard work they do,” he said.
Friday’s party had a railroad theme.
“We’ve never done a railroad theme before,” Ferrall said. “We have a handful of clients who are railroad fanatics, so they are pretty excited about this theme.”
The theme extended from the food to the games, with approximately 90 clients participating.
“There are a variety of games,” Ferrall said, noting a bean bag toss and ping pong game. “We also have train rides provided by Gary Katterheinrich of New Knoxville, who brought his Freedom Train.”
To continue the railroad theme, clients also received something to wear and a special token with their lunches.
“Each client got a hobo pack of crackers to go with their hobo stew,” Ferrall said. “Everyone also was given an engineer’s hat when they arrived.”
This year’s picnic also included a Sept. 11 tribute.
“This year we did a special 9/11 tribute when we started,” Ferrall said. “We stood at the flagpole, and Mick Jaynes and some of our clients sang the national anthem. Our eldest client, Ron Webb, released three balloons — a red, a white and a blue one — with a card on them to whoever finds them to contact us.”
Client Allen McCarthy said he enjoyed the meal, noting he was glad “it wasn’t just hamburgers and hot dogs.”
“It was nicely cooked,” McCarthy said, adding he also enjoyed the train ride.
Brian Moeller said he won at the bean bag toss, while Jessica Frietag noted she enjoyed spending time with her friend Charles Knosan.
“I got to sit in a train, riding down the road,” Frietag added.
Knosan noted what he was enjoying about the picnic.
“I liked riding the train and playing bingo,” he said. “I like having fun with my friends.”
The picnic was held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., a change from the clients’ normal work day.
“We abbreviated the normal work day,” Ferrall said. “We came in an hour later, and we’re leaving an hour earlier.”
Planning for the event, he noted, starts months in advance. Community Employment Manager Brenda Winner puts on the event.
“Brenda starts planning for it three months in advance,” Ferrall said. “As soon as we’re done here, she’ll start planning for the Christmas party.”
The events, he added, give the clients a friendly time away from the workshop.
“We can all be kids and have fun and get into the theme,” Ferrall said. “We can just relax and start the fall season with a fun event.”