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Delray celebrates America with Multicultural Festival

Delray celebrates America with Multicultural Festival

By Shana Gruskin
Staff Writer

October 15, 2001

In previous years, more than 1,000 residents of Delray Beach's southwest neighborhoods have gathered in the fall to celebrate their diversity.

This year, however, under the strain of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America, the fourth annual Multicultural Festival took on added significance.

"With things going on now with the country, we want everyone to know we're all here as one," said festival organizer Carolyn Gholston.

That was certainly clear Sunday afternoon, as the park next to Pine Grove Elementary School filled with families of Cuban, Mexican, Haitian and African-American descent -- all of whom were eager to hear a little music, eat a little food and socialize with their neighbors.

Festivals like this one breed familiarity and understanding, said Sherley Dort, who moved to Boynton Beach from Montreal last month.

"It's really important in the United States because people are from anywhere in the world," she said.

City Commissioner Jeff Perlman concurred, adding that despite South Florida's different cultures, religions and skin tones, "everybody realized we're Americans first and foremost."

The festival, put together by an umbrella organization that represents 15 neighborhood associations, featured Haitian, African-American and Spanish dance troupes as well as jazz, rock and ethnic bands.

Attendees also could join the three-legged race get a balloon animal from Valentine the clown, pick up a free children's bike helmet or give blood.

Carolyn Zimmerman, another organizer, said she expected the new cake contest -- featuring pineapple, coconut, carrot and cherry confections-- would bring even more people together, as neighbors come out to vote for their friends.

Meanwhile Anita Morales, of Delray Beach, said one special event at the festival lures her children every year.

"They like to ride the ponies," she said.

Shana Gruskin can be reached at sgruskin@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6537.

Copyright © 2001, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Copyright © 2001, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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