Keeping kids safe at play in Falcon Heights

Motorists driving through neighborhoods in Falcon Heights may see a new way of raising driver awareness and promoting pedestrian safety at the edges of residents’ property: a bright yellow figure with an eye-catching red belt.

His name is Sidewalk Sammy and his job is to alert drivers that there are children playing nearby.

“It’s amazing how much it catches your eye as you’re driving,” said Falcon Heights City Administrator Heather Worthington.

City officials had been receiving complaints from a lot of concerned residents about the amount and the speed of traffic, Worthington said. People were concerned about their children playing in the front yard. In response, the city found Sidewalk Sammy (also known as “Slow Down Sammy”) and made it available for those wanting to alert drivers that children were present and to use extra caution.

“We wanted residents to be able to draw vehicles’ attention,” Worthington said.

The figures have been for sale at City Hall for the past year and a half. Those who have used them have noticed a difference, Worthington said.

Sammy should be placed adjacent to a resident’s property and should only be put out when the children are out, so motorists take it seriously each time. It stands 32 inches high and includes a 39-inch red warning flag and a large “SLOW” sticker. The belt is reflective, making it visible during twilight hours, according to the city Web site. To ensure the figure remains upright, the base can be filled with water or sand.

Interested residents can view the figure online at www.ci.falcon-heights.mn.us and the figures can be purchased at City Hall for $30. No profit is being made; the price includes the cost of the actual item plus shipping.