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July 29, 2009 > Gathering in the Park

Gathering in the Park

By Simon Wong
Photos By Courtesy of Mike Heightchew

Union City reveled in its cultural and ethnic diversity at the day-long "Gathering in the Park" at Charles F. Kennedy Park on July 18. This event was a celebration of "family."

More than 1,500 members of the community attended the latest Union City 50th Anniversary event. They enjoyed live, family entertainment at the park's amphitheater and ambled among the 75 booths that made up the Health Fair Pavilion, Union City Leisure Services' annual summer Kids' Carnival with bounce house and midway games and Community Marketplace with crafts, commercial, non-profit and sponsors' booths.

The Health Fair Pavilion was the place to visit for simple health checks by physicians and staff from Kaiser Permanente, Washington Hospital, Sahaita Inc., St. Rose Hospital and the American College of Nursing. Chair massages, chiropractic screenings, coupons for free dental exams, information about elder care programs and other health services were also available.

Artisans sold art, calligraphy, crystal and glassware, jewelry, photograph images, T-shirts for children and turned-wooden objects in the Community Marketplace. Staff and vehicles from the City's Fire and Police Departments also had information booths.

Taste of the World Passports sustained the crowds with vegetable samosas, Italian bruschetta, lumpia Shanghai, flautita de pollo, chicken Inasal, rainbow salad, glazed doughnuts, milk tea, root beer floats and Ghirardelli chocolate. The aroma of good food wafted across the park.

The Gathering in the Park had a carnival atmosphere. The color, spectacle and sounds of the performers were redolent of Rio. There was something for everyone.

Aztec dancers resplendent in head-dress, Polynesian dance by Merahi O'Tehani (Tehani's Angels), taekwondo demonstrations by Choi's Martial Arts, Bhangra & Gidha Indian folk dancing (by men and women, respectively), blues from Eldridge "Big Cat" Tolefree and the Hipnotics, dancing by the Hiyas Philippine Folk Dance Company and Latin and salsa from LAVA Latin Rhythms appeared on the bill.

The American Flag was presented by the Boy Scout Color Guard and Mary Brown sang the National Anthem. Comedian Mark Pitta was master of ceremonies. Chuck Kennedy was stage manager.

"The event took 18 months to organize," said Dianne Gates-Anderson, Chair of the Gathering in the Park Committee. "The volunteers have worked so hard to make this possible. Leisure Services Manager Jill Stavosky moved things forward when she made us aware of all the regulations and permits required."

"When we put together the calendar of events for Union City's year-long 50th Anniversary celebrations, we felt it important they should create a sense of community. It used to be strong but I think it has waned over time. Hopefully, UC50 will restore some of that community spirit and pride," said Helen Kennedy, Chair of UC50.

Visit www.UnionCity50.com for more details about planned community events in 2009, volunteer opportunities, sponsorship and donations. Commemorative items are available online, at Paddy's Coffee Shop and at UC50 events.

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