Ten thousand soft drinks. Nine thousand hot dogs. Seven thousand doughnuts. And 5,500 bags of potato chips.
That's what Montgomery County's 5,500 safety patrollers consumed at a recent picnic -- spread over five days -- sponsored by the county schools and the police department.
The 35th annual event, held at the county fairgrounds in Gaithersburg, honored youngsters from 122 county elementary schools and about 30 parochial schools who assist fellow students in getting safely to and from school, said Lt. J.M. Queen, who manages the safety patrol program.
Queen said the weeklong picnic cost about $25,000 and was financed by contributions from local businesses and government and proceeds from a spring police dance.
"We're the only ones putting on something of this size," he said. "No one else does anything like this over a five-day period. The kids really enjoy it, and it's something we do to show our appreciation for what they do."
About 1,100 students were bused to the picnic grounds each day for food, games and carnival rides. Queen said the event caps a yearlong series of events for the patrollers and police officers, including attending Orioles, Bullets and Capitals games.
The school safety patrol program is a cooperative effort between the schools and the police department. Queen said participating students receive training from the police at the beginning of the school year.
"They learn about traffic laws, and how to handle the other kids. After that, the kids pretty much run their own meetings. They meet every other week, but we have officers attending the meetings and advising them," Queen said.