Police and Pirate reps encourage safe school zone safety

BRADENTON — With the Pittsburgh Pirates’ spring training games starting next week, there comes anticipated increased traffic in town.

So this morning representatives from the Bradenton Police Department and the Pirates are meeting with students at a new elementary just blocks from McKechnie Field on Ninth Street West to remind them about school zone safety.

“Each year in the United States, 50,000 children are treated for injuries related to pedestrian car accidents,” Bradenton Police Traffic Sgt. Brian Theirs told G.D. Rogers Elementary kindergarten and first grade students during the first of three assemblies scheduled today. “Always pay attention to the crossing guard or police officer and look three times before you cross the street.”

The Pittsburgh Pirates mascot was also on hand during the assembly to help demonstrate to children the proper ways to cross the street.

The school, in the 500 block of 13th Avenue West, is located less than 1,000 feet from McKechnie Field.

This is the first year the new school is open during spring training.

“About 6,000 people attend the games, and we anticipate an additional 3,000 cars so we want to make sure everyone is paying attention to the new school,” said Pirates’ spokesman Trevor Goodby. Theirs said two out of three drivers speed thru school zones, so he warned students to be more aware of the traffic.

“I want you guys to pay attention,” Theirs told the enthusiastic group of youngsters as the Pirate mascot waved to the audience.

He also encouraged students to walk to and from school or the bus stop in groups, and to run from strangers if they offer them a ride.

“And when you’re walking with kids younger than you, be a good example,” Theirs said.

As a reward for their listening skills this morning, Goodby gave students free tickets to the Pirates’ game against the State College of Florida set for Tuesday at 12:05 p.m. at McKechnie Field.