From a costume contest to line dancing, pumpkin carving to face paint, and a farmer’s market to a Clínica Tepeyac booth, the Cole Arts & Sciences Academy hosted a very successful Harvest Festival. Cole has facilitated community events around this time of year in the past, but this was the first time an event has been held outdoors. Though there was still some left over wind from the night before, the air was steady enough to hold the Harvest together.
Families were already outside the school long before the Harvest Festival began, lined up and ready for the action. Youthful eyes followed our every move as we set up the stations. Their enthusiasm and excitement was evident as they almost broke down the gate to get in early. It was extremely refreshing and energizing to be surrounded by such strong community involvement. Once the gates opened, families flooded through, receiving pumpkin carving vouchers, tickets to spend at the stations, and bags to collect goodies. Not even the wind could blow the school spirit away.
Several AmeriCorps members volunteered their time all over the event doing traffic control, leading games, serving hot chocolate and cider, and more. One of the highlights of the evening was the country line dancing, in which three AmeriCorps members—and one dragon—helped lead a dancing lesson. One of the most popular stations was the dunk tank, in which students lined up for miles to attempt to send Joey Pace, Director of the Beacon Neighborhood Center at Cole, into a tank of more or less freezing water. While some questioned whether he’d have a cold the next day or not, Joey simply stated that it was all for the kids.
As we cleaned up the last of the supplies, realizing it was more than just the wind that day that blew us away. The great turnout at the Harvest Festival demonstrated the immense value in creating a safe neighborhood school environment for families to enjoy. Between pie throwing at teachers to spoken word performances by Molina Speaks and InVinity, the culmination of a successful community event with so many families having fun is what made the cold and the wind beyond worthwhile for everyone!
By Nadia Saldaña-Spiegle and Kelly Scenna