Music, comedy, children’s fun, food on the Rondout
Kingston’s first Block Party in Celebration of Diversity will feature music, dance, comedy, children’s activities, food and drinks at T.R. Gallo West Strand Park from 1 to 5 p.m. June 9.
The free, “family friendly” event — hosted by the Reher Center for Immigrant Culture and History and featuring at least 12 community organizations — will celebrate Kingston’s rich cultural heritage, Reher Center Chairman Geoff Miller said.
“The Rondout area has always been rimmed by distinct ethnic neighborhoods,” Miller said. “But these enclaves all came together for generations to frequent the many businesses that once lined both sides of lower Broadway and East and West Strand. Who didn’t buy their shoes at Yallum’s or savor a fresh roll from the Reher Bakery after church on Sunday?” ”That cross-cultural connection is what the block party is about — bringing people together from all over Kingston, no matter what their cultural background, to celebrate ethnic diversity and just have a good time,” Miller said.
Participating groups sharing their customs and ways of life include the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Bruderhof Communities, Chabad of Ulster County, Faith Church of God, Friends of Historic Kingston, the Hellenic Youth Dance Group, Humanamente, the Irish Cultural Center, the Jewish Federation of Ulster County, La Voz magazine, the New Progressive Baptist Church, Somos la Llave and Sons of Norway.
The groups represent Kingston’s African-American, Greek-American, Irish-American, Jewish-American, Latino-American and Norwegian-American cultures. Other groups are invited to join.
A wide variety of ethnic foods will be available for purchase, as will “all-American” foods such as hamburgers and hot dogs. Children’s activities will include arts and crafts, games, singing and storytelling.
We’re excited so many different groups said they would participate,” Miller said, calling cultural diversity a “gift” and the block party “an opportunity for sharing and building relationships cross-culturally.”
The event will he held, rain or shine. Seating is informal, so please bring blankets or folding chairs, Miller said.
This year’s party is a featured event in the state’s June 8-9 Heritage Weekend, part of New York’s Path Through History initiative (paththroughhistory.ny.gov) showcasing the state’s history and cultural significance.