HERSHEY, Pa., March 31, 1979 (UPI) - Little Mario Baylor loved the warm March sun, the magic show and the chocolate bars. For him, it was a perfect day.
School was called off. He could munch on a hot dog. Sip a cold soft drink.
The rest of the children loved it, too. Those who live in Susquehanna River Valley towns often visit the world-famous Hershey amusement park complex and chocolate factory.
Yet yesterday was different.
More than 150 kids and parents filed into Hersheypark Arena - turned into a makeshift civil defense disaster relief shelter - because a nuclear power plant accident forced them from their homes.
"What can you do? If you sit still and dwell on the subject you might panic," said Rev. Daniel Shutters, pastor of the Zion Lutheran Church in Dauphin, Pa. He gave the kids a two-hour magic show and led a game of ring-around-the-rosey.
Pregnant women and parents with pre-school age children poured into the evacuation shelter and another like it in nearby York after Gov. Dick Thornburgh ordered schools closed.
The governor also advised those highly susceptible to radiation to leave the area around the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident scene.
"As for the adults here, they're not expressing their anxieties, but they've got to be anxious," said Rev. Bill Mielka, an official who was in charge of the Dauphin County relief center at Hersheypark.
You can see the cooling towers of Three Mile Island from Elizabethtown, Pa., where Kathleen Henry, 26, lives. She is pregnant said she was worried about her unborn child.
"I'm not real thrilled about it. I wonder what effect it will have considering all they've been saying," she said.
Patting her bulging stomach, Bonnie Morgan, 19, of Middletown, Pa., who's expecting her first baby any day now, said, "I think he's all right now. I feel a little bit better since I got here. But I'd rather be at home."
Judith Ebersole, 28, of Falmouth, Pa., another Susquehanna River town near the nuclear power station, said she was frightened.
"I feel we've been lied to and I don't trust the reports," she said.
As for 6-year-old Mario Baylor, the magic show was keeping him amused.
School was called off.
The smell of chocolate was in the air.
Hershey Foods employees gave away free chocolate bars.
"It's really neat," the 6-year-old said.