#DriveSober event highlighted by NASCAR driver, watermelon queen

MILFORD — Free melons, tricycle rides and a meet-and-greet with NASCAR driver Ross Chastain met families who visited Bicentennial Park Tuesday night.

Families and friends were seen gathering around Mr. Chastain’s racecar for photos before being handed autographs by the man himself.

Visitors could also explore a motorcycle on display from the Milford Police Department and meet Amy Wigglesworth from Salisbury, Md., the 2016 Mar-Del Watermelon Queen.

But a feel-good visit isn’t all Milford officers, Mr. Chastain and Delaware’s Office of Highway Safety hoped visitors would take out of the event.

“OHS strives to educate and enforce safe driving habits throughout the state. We are thrilled to reconnect with the passionate NASCAR fans that identify with our ‘Buckle Up!’ message on a daily basis,” said Lisa Flowers, community relations officer for Delaware’s Office of Highway Safety.

“Buckle Up! as part of NHTSA’s Click It or Ticket campaign isn’t about the citations; it’s about saving lives. The spring NASCAR Xfinity Series race provides the opportunity to strengthen OHS’ message by reminding drivers and passengers to ‘Click It or Ticket It – Buckle Up.’”

To help raise awareness and drive the point home to visitors, officers with the Milford Police Department asked adults and older children to don “drunk goggles” and ride around a small circle in Bicentennial Park on tricycles.

“The event went really well. Utilizing vision distorting lenses, impairment style goggles simulate the effects of alcohol consumption on the body. It is a great way to engage audiences and share our message of choosing to drive sober or find a safe ride,” Ms. Flowers said.

The event was tied together by a partnership between Delaware’s Office of Highway Safety and Melon 1, one of the nation’s largest and oldest watermelon grower and shippers. Through that partnership, watermelons were given to visitors for free.

Other partners included JD Motorsports, Inc. Dover Motorsports and JHE Productions.

Watermelons, like those given away during the Tuesday night event in Milford, will be in grocery stores and farmers markets throughout Delaware from May to June, labeled with “Protect your Melon” and “#BuckleUp” messages. From July through September, the watermelons will focus on a “#DriveSober” message as part of a DUI awareness campaign.

According to Ms. Flowers, the Office of Highway Safety is committed to improving the safety of Delaware’s motoring public by focusing on behavioral traffic safety issues such as impaired driving, seat belt use, aggressive driving, child passenger safety, pedestrian and bicycle safety, motorcycle safety and teen driving issues.

For more information on the Delaware Office of Highway Safety, its involvement with NASCAR and to stay up-to-date on news and announcements, follow OHS on Twitter – @DEHighwaySafe.

For regular updates on all social media channels go to Facebook – ArriveAliveDE, Twitter – @DEHighwaySafe, and Instagram – @DEHighwaySafe, websites www.ohs.delaware.gov and http://www.arrivealivede.com/.

News Editor Jennifer Antonik can be reached at jantonik@newszap.com.

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at mc@newszap.com

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