Festival offers ‘a taste of the world’

It’s rare for Spongebob Squarepants, political candidates and middle school cheerleaders to be found in the same place, but that’s exactly what happened on Saturday at the 12th annual Community Fest.

Co-sponsored by the College and the township of Ewing, this year’s Community Fest, called “A Taste of the World,” took place on and around the Loser Hall lawn from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The festival was described on its official Web site as a way to “celebrate our diverse cultures that weave the dynamic fabric of our communities together,” and featured vendors, non-profit organizations, religious groups, bands, businesses and student organizations, among others.

Students, families and Ewing residents walked in the bright sunshine, perusing tables, snacking on hot dogs and snow cones, buying displayed merchandise and tapping their feet to various musical acts, which included Thursday Night Jazz Band, a group comprised of 15-year-olds who have been playing at venues together for years.

“I came here for the moon bounces and face painting and because I’m a senior and I haven’t taken advantage of free stuff from (the College),” mathematics/secondary education major Melissa Rinaldi said.

Many political and social awareness groups used the large crowd to their advantage, offering pamphlets, buttons and T-shirts endorsing everyone from libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul to state assemblyman Reed Guisciora. Ken Wolski and Don McGraff of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey found the visitors at their table quite amenable to their rather unorthodox message.

“Everyone used to laugh and snicker about marijuana, but now they’re very serious,” said Wolski. “We’ve had a very good reception.”

One organization, the Blood Council of New Jersey, Inc., attracted attention with its large white bus, ominously labeled “The Bloodmobile.” Despite a few wary stares, many volunteered to help the critically low blood supply in New Jersey by donating blood right on the bus, but unfortunately many were not able to give blood for various reasons.

“This tells you why people need to donate,” Terre Majewski of the Blood Council said. “Of 41 people we only have nine units so far.”

Many student organizations were there representing the College, like the College Union Board, Student Art Association, Amnesty International and various fraternities and sororities. The Leadership Development Program had a large blanket spread out in front of its table and read classic stories like “The Three Pigs” to children, while the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority raised money and awareness for breast cancer.

“Our philanthropy is breast cancer awareness and as a way to give back to the community we set up a table,” junior English and secondary education major Lauren Heimlich said.

College students weren’t the only ones there to make a difference. A bubbly group of fifth grade cheerleaders had drawn pictures for children with cancer, and were raising money for new uniforms. “These are ugly,” said a girl named Eva as she pointed to the older uniform she was wearing and wrinkled her nose.

“It’s really fun and it’s a good thing to do for our community. We’ve made a lot of money,” said another cheerleader named Simone.

The Kids Fun Zone attracted a lot of attention from smaller members of the crowd, who delighted in the life-size Spongebob mascot and various moon bounces and inflatable obstacle courses. There was a train that ran through part of the campus, and many of the student organizations had set up activities for the kids, like face and pumpkin painting and other arts and crafts projects.

Most of Community Fest’s attendees professed to enjoy themselves and to appreciate the wide variety of organizations and activities present.

“As a senior at (the College), I feel very connected with the Ewing community and I want to support their events,” art education major Jen Braverman said.

Senior political science major Tom Sales said, “I came because driving the golf carts last year was the most fun I’ve ever had at (the College) without breaking the law.”

Maybe that’s all Community Fest really is – a group of people gathering to have fun legally.