Roanoke library festival brought books to kids on a gloomy day

“This gives the kids something to do and somewhere to go.”

ROANOKE, Va. – The weather was gloomy across the Roanoke Valley on Saturday, but children in Northwest Roanoke still found a way to have fun outside.

Roanoke Public Libraries hosted its annual Melrose Fall Festival Saturday afternoon. The event took place outside of its Melrose branch since all Roanoke libraries are still mostly closed to visitors.

“I know things can be difficult, but we still try to be a safe place for families and a place to support families,” said Roanoke Public Libraries director Sheila Umberger.

The event featured free books and other assorted gifts. Umberger said parents could not wait to check it out.

“We were here at 8 o’clock in the morning, and people started calling us and asking if it was still going on despite the rain,” Umberger said.

The festival also showcased the Kiwanis playground next to the library, which opened less than two months ago.

“Seeing the kids have fun here while getting books and educational materials is great,” said Victoria Cox, a fall festival visitor who lives close by.

Cox believes the library and the playground combine to make an essential outlet for kids, especially during COVID-19 and virtual classes.