By Lauren Fitch Kokomo Tribune
---- — A birthday party for two young children took an unexpected twist when a tornado hit Kokomo Nov. 17, sending guests into safe rooms to wait out the storm.
All 30 children and adults in attendance were unharmed, despite the tornado causing extensive damage to Bona Vista’s Imagine That! Center, where the birthday party was held.
“Kylie, our new Imagine That! assistant, acted quickly and followed all emergency procedures to maintain the guest’s safety,” said Adria Snoddy, director of pediatric therapies and Imagine That!. “We are so proud of the way she composed herself. It was a great deal of responsibility brought on to a young employee.”
Kylie Wright guided everyone into interior rooms in the facility, which is located at 1800 S. Plate St. in Kokomo. The family that hosted the birthday party for their 1-year-old and 3-year-old children praised Wright’s efforts, saying she calmed the children by singing “The Wheels on the Bus.”
Damage to the Imagine That! Center was so extensive that Bona Vista began demolition on the building Thursday.
“(Demolishing Imagine That!) was for liability purposes,” Snoddy said. “On part of the building, the ceiling had caved in, and on the other part the roof had ripped off.”
Within two weeks, Imagine That! will re-open at a temporary location at 2751 S. Albright Road. Plans to rebuild at the center’s previous location are moving forward, Snoddy said.
“We plan to start programming for the children within the community and space for party rentals in the next couple of weeks,” she said. “We’re thankful that no one was severely injured or killed within the community. That’s what’s important.”
Because many of the rooms and toys at Imagine That! were damaged or destroyed, Bona Vista is accepting donations. To learn more about specific needs and to make a donation, contact Brittnee Burton at 765-457-8273 ext. 335.
Contact Snoddy at 765-457-8273 ext. 385 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the temporary location and to schedule an event.