Hometown heroes give back

Corey Friedman | Daily Journal Trinity Lockhart, 7, flies through the air on bungee cables after launching herself from a trampoline during a free family festival put on by the San Diego Chargers’ Melvin Ingram and the New Orleans Saints’ Dannell Ellerbe.

Corey Friedman | Daily Journal Shannon Green, left, and Talayeh Covington pose for a picture with the New Orleans Saints’ Dannell Ellerbe during Saturday’s Family Fun Day in Hamlet.

Corey Friedman | Daily Journal Five-year-old Destiny Snead tries her hand at the rock-climbing wall during Family Fun Day at Hamlet Memorial Park.

Corey Friedman | Daily Journal Four-year-old Shermaine Ingram Jr. rockets down an inflatable slide Saturday afternoon at Melvin Ingram’s Family Fun Day, presented this year with Dannell Ellerbe.

Corey Friedman | Daily Journal Children jumped, twirled, tumbled and shot hoops in a bounce house during Saturday’s Family Fun Day.

HAMLET — Kids climbed, leaped, hopped and slid on a sunny Saturday as two gridiron greats put on a summer festival for families in their home county.

For the first year, New Orleans Saints inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe joined San Diego Chargers outside linebacker Melvin Ingram to sponsor the Melvin’s Mission Family Fun Day at Hamlet Memorial Park.

The NFL players provided a bounce house, inflatable slides, a rock-climbing wall, a trampoline bungee jump, face-painting and more for hundreds of Richmond County children.

Parents gulped bottled water and held their kids’ cotton candy and popcorn as the youths participated in free activities in the park from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

“For Melvin and Dannell both being from Richmond County, coming home to where they came from is important,” said Maurice McLaurin, director of Hamlet Parks and Recreation. “It’s fun for us when they do, but what impresses me is that it’s important to them that they come back.”

The free festival in the park wasn’t the only thing Ingram and Ellerbe had up their sleeves. The fun continued with a basketball tournament planned from 5 to 10 p.m. at Richmond Senior High.

Both pro athletes were standouts on the Richmond Senior football team.