Fun and Fellowship at First “Unity Day”

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Kids loved the bouncy castle in the Garnett schoolyard.     Photo by Jane Jewell

The first “Unity Day” was held from 1:00-4:00 pm, Saturday, April 14, on the grounds of Garnet Elementary School and Bethel AME Church and on College Ave, the street in front of the  church and school.  Food trucks lined the street along with booths and tables from community organizations. Among those taking part were several Washington College student groups, the WC Graphic Information (GIS) Center, CV Starr Center,  Washington College Admissions, Sumner Hall Grand Army of the Republic Post #25, National Alliance for Mental Health, the Diversity Dialogue Group, and the Kent County Democratic Club.   There were also booths for Arts by Alan Johnson, the Garfield Center for the Arts, Kent County Arts Council, the Kent County Humane Society, Kent County Library, Maryland American Beauty Pageants, and Kent County Indivisible among others.  Chestertown farmers’ market manager Owen McCoy even brought a baby goat for kids–the human kind–to pet!

Photo by Jim Block

For several years, members of the Diversity Dialogue Group and other community members have talked about the need to bring together the various communities within Chestertown and Kent County.  Plans began to firm up when Washington College officially signed onto the project last year.  The college is right down the block from Garnet Elementary School.  The Garnet building, now Chestertown’s integrated elementary school, was, until the early 1970s, the segregated Black  High School.  Now the surrounding neighborhood is mixed racially and ethnically though still predominantly African-American. Quite a few of Washington College’s off-campus students live in the area.  One of the goals of the day was to help forge links between the college and the neighborhood and the community as a whole.  It all came together in a well-attended event Saturday — and Mother Nature brought it all to perfection with a warm, sunny Spring day.

Photo by Jim Block

Bethel Church provided a Fish Fry. Also present to feed the hungry were food trucks by Papa Smurf and Crazy Rick’s.  Hot dogs were provided by the KCHS Band committee, tacos were from Los Jariochos and cookies from Washington College.

There were activities for both kids and adults, including free face painting, crayons and coloring pages, a dance contest, and a “mural-in-the-making” by KidSpot.  Two large “bouncy castles” in the Garnet schoolyard drew crowds of kids all afternoon.

And there was music all afternoon — both live and recorded.  The Chestertown Ukelele Club played several songs.  Guitarist and vocalist Fredy Granillo was accompanied by drummer and CPA Bob Miller. There was also a drum circle.

Exact attendance was hard to determine with people coming and going throughout the day, but event organizers estimated the crowd at 5o0 to 1,000, noting that some people came and left and then returned again bringing friends and neighbors.

Many community leaders came together to make the day possible– with committees working hard over the past year.  Organizers included Elena Deanda, Washington College professor of Spanish language and Black Studies; Larry Samuels, Armond Fletcher and Lolli Sherry of the Diversity Dialogue Group, Ruth Shoge, Lynn Dolinger, Rosemary Granillo, Michael Buckley, and Jamie Barrett, among others along with many volunteers.   Planning is now in the works for the second annual “Unity Day.”

Photo Gallery by Jim Block and Jane Jewell

Barbara Foster standing) and Carolyn Brooks (seated on right)  helped run coloring activities for local kids.      Photo by Jane Jewell

Photo by Jane Jewell

Organizers of Chestertown chapter of Maryland American Beauty Pageants Photo by Jane Jewell

Photo by Jim Block

Photo by Jim Block

Fredy Granillo (left)                                                                    Bob Miller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Jane Jewell

Photo by Jim Block

Armond Fletcher with cookies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Jim Block

Photo by Jim Block

Photo by Jim Block

 

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Letters to Editor

  1. Barbara Harrison says:

    Actually, Garnet became Chestertown Elementary School in the fall of 1967: I know because I was the crossing guard!

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