Dave Heil

Unity, inclusion and, of course, fun stand in the forefront for the 14th annual Mayor’s Sunday is Funday.

The community picnic is set for this coming Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. at Haynes Park. Admission is $1 for adults and free for kids age 12 and younger.

Parking at Intel and the shuttle rides from there to the park are free. This year, the theme is “Everybody Matters: Rio Rancho is Stronger Together.”

“We as a community, when we’re working together, there’s a whole lot we can accomplish to make our community better,” said organizer Dave Heil, a Rio Rancho Kiwanis Club member and Sandoval County commissioner.

The theme also highlights inclusion with a Special Olympics kickball game and a wheelchair basketball game and lessons. Many of the booths will promote charitable messages.

The Kiwanis Club is sponsoring 12-year-old Samantha Reynolds at the event as she and her family try to raise awareness of hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis and money for her treatment of the rare disease. HLH is a life-threatening condition in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy organs, according to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital website.

According to the family’s GoFundMe page, Samantha is undergoing chemotherapy and taking steroids; she’ll need a blood transfusion and bone marrow transplant at Cincinnati Children’s.

As always, proceeds from Sunday is Funday will go to local youth organizations.

A silent auction in Haynes Community Center contributes to those proceeds. Heil said the dozens of items include event tickets from Santa Ana Star Center, a wine basket from Latitudes and a Joe’s Pasta House gift basket.

He said Haynes Pool will have free admission. Other activity opportunities include a rock-climbing wall, a mechanical bull, inflatable jumpers and games at many booths.

“We almost have all new food vendors this year,” he said.

Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, Punchy’s Pizza and Fiesta Mexican food are among the new offerings. Hot Stuff is returning, as are the hotdogs and hamburgers from the Kiwanis Club.

Master Jim’s Taekwondo Academy and Shorei Ryu Karate are scheduled to do demonstrations. Sparrow Dance Productions, Rio Rancho Youth Chorus, Celtic Steps dancers and the Boys & Girls Club band are offering live entertainment.

Attendees will be able to check out police and fire vehicles, too.

“The best way to the fun is parking at Intel,” Heil said.

Shuttles will run continuously between Haynes Park and Intel. He estimated people could get from Intel to the park in five to seven minutes.

For the first time, Boss Towing will tow away vehicles that park on the east side of Grande Boulevard. Heil said vehicles on the east side of the street are a safety hazard and block the shuttles.

“I’m hoping that we don’t have to use it,” he said of the tow truck.

Motorists can still park along the west side of Grande.

Heil is expecting more than 6,000 people at the event. Pets are allowed at Sunday is Funday, including on the shuttles.

Sunday is Funday is a joint venture between the Kiwanis Club and the City of Rio Rancho. Tony Popper, the late former city councilor, Kiwanian and community volunteer, started the event as a fun, affordable activity for all families, Heil said.

“It’s inexpensive. It’s fun. It’s a time to run into those neighbors you haven’t seen in a long time,” he said.