Celebrities to Visit Schools in Drug Fight

Earlier this week, it was Frankenstein's monster, Woody Woodpecker and Glendale Mayor Larry Zarian. Tonight, it's the Glendale Police Department and Officer (Take a Bite Out of Crime) McGruff. On Friday, it's baseball star Darryl Strawberry and actress Kirstie Alley.

The cartoon characters, celebrities and local politicians are visiting several Glendale schools through Friday as part of Red Ribbon Week, a nationwide campaign against drug abuse.

The event began in 1985 as a tribute to slain federal drug enforcement agent Enrique Camarena. This year, Glendale's 26 schools have given students and teachers red ribbons and bracelets that symbolize opposition to drug use, said Priscilla Mahnken, a Glendale PTA Council member who organized the local campaign.

A few schools have invited celebrities, written rap music and sponsored poster contests to help get the anti-drug message out, Mahnken said.

At Verdugo Woodlands Elementary School, for instance, Zarian and Universal Studios characters Woody Woodpecker and Frankenstein's monster on Monday visited students, who also heard a videotaped message from actor Willie Ames, star of the TV sitcom "Charles in Charge."

At Mountain Avenue Elementary School, fourth- and fifth-graders helped teachers and parents write a rap song against drugs and sang it this week to their classmates, said Carol Mollett, the school's PTA president.

Tonight, Glendale police officers and a parent dressed as Officer McGruff will talk to parents of children at Mark Keppel Elementary School about drug use. Keppel students on Friday will attend a "Just Say No" assembly expected to feature "Cheers" actress Alley, Strawberry of the New York Mets, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich and others, Mahnken said.

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