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College Park Day on the Gazette

The Gazette has published this piece in this week’s edition on the College Park Day (Thanks Gazette). I’m reprinting the article here:

College Park to host city festival this fall
Inaugural event to highlight community groups, diversity

Last fall while writing on his blog, College Park resident Joe Smith lamented that his city had many festivals and events hosted by the University of Maryland, College Park, but had very few activities showcasing what the city and its nearly 28,000 residents had to offer outside of campus.

Resident Fazlul Kabir, also an active blogger, agreed that the city should have an event celebrating its diversity.

With the help of city officials and other residents, the two have since run with their ideas, helping to plan the inaugural College Park Day, which will be held Oct. 9 to highlight the people, businesses and community groups that call the city home.

“The idea here is to celebrate everything that the city has to offer,” Smith said. “[We want to] hopefully show people that College Park is more dynamic than they think and that there’s more to the city than the University of Maryland.”

Residents have been actively planning College Park Day since March, said City Councilman Patrick L. Wojahn (Dist. 1). Initially, just a handful of people began organizing the event, but now about 25 residents are working on several planning committees.

“We have a couple of staff members involved on staff time, but for the most part it’s being organized by residents,” Wojahn said. “I think there’s a certain amount of buzz being generated now. People seem to be excited.”

Attractions will likely include food, games, music, dancing, city culture and history exhibits and representatives from community groups, organizers said.

The city allocated $5,000 to College Park Day, Wojahn said, adding that he expects the funds to cover the event’s full cost. Any additional funding would likely come from private donations or local business sponsorship, he said.

“I like it when the city of College Park has a fun, family day,” said resident Kim Lugo, who is not involved in the event’s planning. “It does provide a way for new and older residents to meet up and we’re also able to provide information on what [public services] the city offers.”

Part of the event’s inspiration comes from the now-defunct Taste of College Park — an annual festival in the mid-2000s where residents sampled food from local restaurants. Wojahn said the event provided an opportunity for fellowship, but struggled because it was often overshadowed by the university’s Maryland Day, which was often held on the same weekend and drew more than 50,000 people.

Kabir said he hopes College Park Day will become a longer-lasting tradition than its food-oriented predecessor. He added that he expects the event to help bring together an increasingly diverse city, which includes young professionals and retirees, and has seen increases in Hispanic and Muslim residents.

“Things have been changing. A new generation of people are coming in,” Kabir said. “We decided to do something which could actually bring everyone together.”

College Park Day will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 9 at the College Park Community Center and Paint Branch Elementary School, located at 5051 and 5101 Pierce Ave. in College Park. The event also has a website at http://www.collegeparkday.org

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