HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Hartford Public Schools hosted its fourth annual back-to-school celebration Tuesday, allowing 4,000 students to leave the XL Center with shoulders strapped for success.

Miranda Maughan was with her daughter and five grandchildren, who each got a free backpack and school supplies like pencils, crayons, and notebooks.

“If it wasn’t for this, I don’t know how we would have managed to get them backpacks,” Maughan told News 8. “So, we really appreciate it.”

According to the National Retail Federation, families with children K-12 are expected to spend an average of $890 on back-to-school items, another record year due to inflation.

“That’s really how this was birthed. We wanted to begin to help families get ready for back to school,” said Hartford Public Schools Chief of Outreach Nuchette Black-Burke.

“They got all the things for free, and we can get anything that we want,” 6th grader Pedro Arauja said. “I got the supplies for school and a book bag.”

The event featured dozens of informative booths, from youth empowerment to English language learning services, to ensure every family had the necessary knowledge.

“If families still have questions about registration for their child, they can talk to them here,” Black-Burke said. “We also have the office of health services so immunizations and physicals. They are also on-site to help families with that.”

The information provided Tuesday didn’t just help children.

“One of them informed my daughter on how to get her GED and where she can get it,” Maughan said.

The three-hour event also offered free food, ice cream, and fun. Kids could take pictures with characters like Deadpool, play in a bouncy house, get their faces painted, or get a temporary tattoo — all to help build excitement for the first day of school in two weeks.

“It’s a great time to just reconnect so families can see their teachers, some of their principals,” Black-Burke said. “It’s like starting new, a new beginning, and coming here sets the mind in motion.”

The first day of school in Hartford is Aug. 29.