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Rock-chalk readers hit library

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

The urge to get the chance to see Baby Jay close up was too much to resist, even for the staunchest of Kansas State University fans.

Seven-year-old Logan Chance was a good sport Friday afternoon and stood alongside his 4-year-old brother Malachi for a photo with Baby Jay.

The miniature mascot -- who makes appearances at University of Kansas activities in Lawrence and at KU alumni events throughout the state -- didn't look so little next to babies and toddlers and grade school children attending an end-of-the-summer party at Hays Public Library.

Logan, whose preference is the purple and white of intrastate rival K-State, wanted to see Baby Jay as much as the next guy. But he wasn't about to wear a blue and crimson KU shirt like his brother, posing instead in a sport coat and vest.

"He's our eccentric one," the boys' dad, Shawn Chance, said of his middle son.

The Chance family -- which includes mom Shauna and older brother Zachary, who will turn 9 on Monday -- was in for a pleasant surprise when it moved to Hays earlier this month from Manhattan.

Although the family is split in its allegiances to KU and K-State, it's all on board when it comes to the benefits of a library.

"This library is so child-oriented," Shauna Chance said. "I'm really impressed with their programs."

The Chances weren't able to take part in the summer reading program, which began in May. But all were invited to Friday's celebration.

Approximately 250 children showed up along with nearly 130 adults for a picnic lunch and prize give-away.

It was the last of the week-long summer-ending parties for the children's department, and they came out in full force. Friday was recognition day for those in kindergarten through grade 3, but children of all ages showed up for mascot day.

In addition to Baby Jay, also cruising the crowd was the Lego Ninja named Ninjago and Chili the Penguin, the library's popular mascot that got the biggest ovation from the audience when it was introduced.

Numerous youngsters showed up in strollers -- some just a few weeks old -- for their first end-of-the-summer library party.

Although they won't remember it, they were ready to see Baby Jay.

One of those was 6-week-old Jaden Brull, all decked out in her newborn-sized KU cheerleading outfit in the arms of her mom, Julie.

"We found it before we knew we were even having a girl," said Jaden's dad, Jeff Brull. "If she would have been a boy, we thought it would be a neat baby gift for someone."

Jaden's sister Jenna, 4, was wearing a similar cheerleading outfit, and older brother Jensen, 7, was sporting a Jayhawk football jersey.

"We mix it up, come to the library, go to Hays Rec programs," said Jeff Brull, who attended KU out of high school. "I really wanted the kids to see Baby Jay in person. It's a real thrill for them."

Numerous kids were thrilled by the prizes they won, too.

Youngsters who logged books read in the summer reading program received a ticket for every 10 books read. Those tickets went into the drawings for the large prizes that included bicycles, fishing poles and sleeping bags.

As names were drawn and announced by Brandon Hines, youth service librarian, hundreds of other prizes waited on tables in an adjacent room.

"There's a prize for everyone," said Hines, who deemed the 2012 summer reading program a success.

Soon, another family will be added to the list of children that participate in the library youth programs.

"The boys are going to start coming to the (programs)," Shauna Chance said.