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Bike Rodeo At Farmer's Market
A children's bicycle rodeo was the main attraction of a health and safety day at the Riverbank Farmer's Market on Saturday.

Children were lining up by the score to tackle the winding course between the orange pylons laid out at the intersection of Third and Santa Fe streets.

Before they took off cycling, however, they had to answer to Deputy Donny Worsham and show they knew all the hand signals to help them ride safely in the middle of traffic.

Riverbank Police Services officials were there in force. They included Police Chief Bill Pooley, Community Services Officer Gina Reno and most of the office staff including Martha Perez, Ann Crist and part timers Alisandra Perez and Sheriff's Team of Active Retired Seniors member Joni Faria.

They were kept busy checking and measuring kids' bicycles for registration, ensuring the equipment like brakes and steering was safe and the bicycle could be identified if lost or stolen. Any bicycle that the owner plans to ride on the street must be registered with the city.

Motorcycle officer Gary Vernon brought along his patrol motorbike to the delight of the younger crowd, who once again got to sit in the seat of power, flash all the lights and sound all the sirens.

The firefighters turned out, too. Captain Mike Whorton, Firefighter Alan Peluffo and Engineer Zack Gardner of the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District parked a truck right in the intersection and invited children and adults alike to inspect the equipment.

Gardner showed off the helmet he has used for the 10 years since he joined the force. His uncle was a firefighter in San Francisco and passed it on to him.

Helmets tend to have quite a history because they are the only item of a firefighter's gear that he keeps throughout his service, said Gardner. Traditionally red for a chief, black for a firefighter and yellow for an engineer, they all have a crest with an American eagle symbol and follow a design that dates back to the early 1900s. Most are personalized. Gardner, for instance, decorated his with a Stars and Stripes flag sticker at the time of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Peluffo, who became a firefighter three years ago, has an old helmet made of leather that's also marked with personal symbols.

"When the kids go over a fire truck, they all want to see the same things," he said. "They want to see a fire ax, the Jaws of Life and they want to squirt some water."

Fire Prevention Month will be in October and the fire crews will be visiting schools or having children's groups come to the fire station to look over the equipment, learn what to do during a house fire and hopefully get the opportunity to use the hose.