‘Christmas in August’ comes to McKinley Hill

Christmas came early to McKinley Hill on Saturday.

The yule trees and sparkling reindeer were a bit incongruous in the 88-degree weather, but few at the McKinley Hill Street Fair seemed to mind.

Children clutched new backpacks and stuffed animals. Elves handed bags of groceries to dads. An army of Santas gave new bed sheets and pillows to moms.

The event mixes the usual street fair mainstays — entertainment, food booths, vendors — with lots of giveaways.

“Christmas in August” was the theme used by the Making a Difference Foundation. The foundation’s Eloise’s Cooking Pot Food Bank was busy giving out groceries, hot meals, books and snow cones, which recipients quickly downed before they melted in the sweltering heat.

Ahndrea Blue, the foundation’s president, was directing the various giveaways and answering nonstop questions — all while wearing a green tutu. She founded the food bank in 2009.

“People were not eating,” Blue said of the food bank’s origins. “This is a food desert. The only reason we’re here is because there is no market (in the neighborhood).”

Blue expected to serve 1,000 households on Saturday. Each received 35 pounds of groceries, 10 pounds of fresh vegetables — some from the food bank’s two gardens — and household items donated by Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Farther north on McKinley, families filled the Tacoma Christian Center’s buildings and parking lots. Volunteers were manning carnival games outside and handing out 1,200 backpacks filled with school supplies inside. Sports physicals and vision and dental screenings were being conducted inside the church’s main building.

Michelle Fiorese and Lar’Ryeus Colson of University Place brought their five kids and one nephew to the fair. The family was taking advantage of the giveaways and health screenings.

“It helps us with the financial responsibilities of school,” Colson said.

Their kids all chose black backpacks, except for youngest daughter Keyra, 5, who preferred blue “because I love it,” she said.

Fife mom Shayera Kaaihue brought her 5-year-old son, Sevion, to the fair along with several other family members. Sevion was sporting a new red backpack.

Though Sevion is up-to-date on all his medical check-ups, Shayera wanted him to “just have a little bit of fun while he’s getting school supplies.”

Spanaway mom Gabriela Hinojosa brought her four kids to the fair. But before fun and games, there were the health screenings.

“With four kids, it definitely helps me,” Hinojosa said.

Hinojosa’s twin daughters, Estefania and Saray, 12, got matching backpacks.

As the temperature began to climb, the air-conditioned health screenings were becoming more and more enjoyable, the family said.

“We’re staying indoors for a little bit,” Hinojosa said.

Some children weren’t just being entertained. They were the entertainment.

Tacoma band Pig Snout captured a small crowd with their brand of rock. The group is surprisingly polished considering that two thirds of them aren’t old enough to drive.

Dad Justin Tamminga was playing guitar on the fair’s stage while son Lucien, 11, was playing keyboard and daughter Dahlia, 8, was tearing up a drum set. All three sing.

Pig Snout is a band to watch. They’re booked every weekend in August, recently played for a corporate giant, and flew to New York to meet Questlove as part of an endorsement deal.

But so far they have only one roadie.

“I play dad and roadie at the same time,” Tamminga said after loading his vehicle with the band’s gear.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, @crsailor