PUNGO — The long, lazy days of summer used to mean playing outside until mom called you in, long bike rides with friends, unbridled joy to be out of school and in nature, hitting a ball, fishing or surfing.
That’s not always the case in the digital age, and brothers Aristotle and Nicholas Cleanthes of Pungo and Kaitlyn Harris, Aristotle Cleanthes’ fiancé, want to get kids back to their roots. On Saturday, June 13, the twins, who own the restaurant Blue Pete’s, held their first “Unplugged” event in Dave McIntosh’s front yard off Muddy Creek Road.
“We love hunting and fishing,” Aristotle Cleanthes, who goes by Ari, said. “We love the outdoors. We love the youth. We love making a difference, doing stuff for the community, and we like to get the kids involved and give them something other than technology, iPads and video games.”
Several hundred people heard the call and brought their children to the event. They got a chance to launch arrows from bows, practice roping, ride ponies, shimmy a hula hoop, play ball, jump rope, climb on a fire truck and a host of other activities.
There were hamburgers, hot dogs and cold drinks for all. Families threw blankets down under the shade of old-growth tress and enjoyed an old fashioned picnic together.
Cami Hahn heard about the event from friends who had gone to Blue Pete’s for dinner the night before. She thought it was a great idea and brought her two daughters and their friend, even though she felt they already had many outdoor activities with which they are involved.
“I think this event is great,” the Lago Mar mom said. “It’s all about the kids.”
Ari Cleanthes couldn’t agree more. He wants to grow the idea so that kids across the country can reconnect with life’s simple pleasures. He envisions getting national corporations to sponsor the event by supplying a curriculum, dedicating two days a month and supplying equipment to get kids involved in outdoor activities.
“We want to do something that is bigger than ourselves,” added Ari. “We want to impact the next generation. Getting the kids outdoors. It’s not about the money. It’s about making a difference.”
Justin Perkins of Hickory, who brought his young son and daughter to the event, said he supported the concept of getting the kids outdoors. He thinks the brothers have a great idea – and big hearts.
“If the kids don’t do what we do, it won’t be around very long,” Perkins said.
Ari Cleanthes said young people have lost contact with Mother Nature, and he wants to reconnect them. They don’t know where their food comes from, can’t name indigenous plants, fish or birds. Yet many use social media and play video games online.
“We have lost touch with where we have come from and what’s important,” he said. “But if we work together, we can make a difference one kid at a time.”