By Kevin Kelley
Grace Hansen credits knowing not to accept gifts from strangers to her two-week session five years ago at Westlake Safety Town.
Hansen was one of a handful of Safety Town alumni who gathered Thursday afternoon for a reunion photo, organized by Westlake Historical Society President Lysa Stanton.
Hansen said she also remembers having a lot of fun at Safety Town. Her twin sister, Gabrielle, recalls Officer Anna Cavender showing students her pepper spray and other gadgets police carry on their belts.
Both Hansen sisters said they plan on volunteering for Safety Town when they reach middle school and high school.
Westlake Safety Town was launched in 1970. Olivia Kostecke has been the program’s director for the past dozen years. She said a number of parents who attended Safety Town as children have enrolled their children in recent years.
A regular element of Safety Town was a test of students’ knowledge of the don’t-talk-to-stranger-rule, in which a stranger offers the child a sucker. One parent who recently enrolled his child told Kostecke that he failed the test and took the sucker.
Several former Westlake residents who now live out of state enroll their children in Safety Town while staying in Ohio for summer vacation because their communities do not offer such safety courses, Kostecke said.