Published on: Wednesday, June 1, 2016 Takoma Park Newsletter

Takoma got celebrated!

While this year’s Celebrate Takoma! festival was moved indoors due to the rainy weather, nothing could put a damper on the spirits of the attendees who came out to fete their favorite city. There was no shortage of fun, food and fabulous entertainment as folks grabbed their passports (programs) and began their journey in celebration of Takoma Park’s cultural diversity.

Their first stop before entering the performance area might have been Cheryl’s Kitchen, one of the exhibitors at the festival, where they purchased maple frosted walnuts, pecans, or cashews from this long-time Takoma Park resident. Once inside festival goers were treated to a variety of musical and dance performances by the Community Band, Panquility Steel Band, Flamenco DC, Thomas Young Ethiopian Dancers, Conjure Woman Band, Piney Branch Elementary Dancers and the Proverbs Reggae Band.

While singing and dancing along with the performances, attendees feasted on cuisine from the food trucks onsite. They might have enjoyed a refreshing fruit lemonade or smoothie from Chef Hogate’s or dined on a vegan entrée from Everlasting Life. Attendees also had falafel from DC Ballers, pizza from DC Slices, and Ethiopian food from Mesob on Wheels from which to choose for their dining pleasure.

Amidst all this festivity, many of Takoma Park’s youngest residents were engaged with activities in the games and craft area. The mechanical bull was clearly the central attraction as kids waited anxiously in line for their turn at besting the beast. Others opted for tamer activities, such as playing giant chess, dominoes or Chinese checkers, although the Pull of Peace (tug of war) did get fierce at times.

In addition to these activities, there were plenty of opportunities to learn more about community organizations in Takoma Park. Both the Takoma Park Emergency Preparedness and Independence Day Committees manned tables. Nearby at the Crossroads Community Food Network’s table, residents tasted samples of organic greens. These other community vendors participated as well: CHEER, City of Takoma Park Sustainability Office, EF International Language Center, Gustus Orthodontist, Holy Cross Hospital, Maryland Physicians Care, Takoma Park Community Band, Takoma/Langley Crossroads Development Authority, Takoma Park Volunteer Fire Department, Toastmasters and Takoma Foundation, which gave out its annual Azalea Awards during the festival.

These awards honor residents who have helped the community be the place it is and inspired us all to make it even better. Here are the 2016 winners listed by category.

  • Arts: Yvonne Edwards, founder of Knock on Wood and Busy
  • Graham Business Leaders: Eric Hardy, manager, Ace Hardware, Old Town
  • Coach: Brian Baker, soccer and cross country coach, TPMS
  • Green Activist: Lori Hill and John Robinette
  • Educator: Holly Pasquale, instrumental music teacher, TPMS
  • Mentor: Abby Golden, guidance counselor TPES
  • Neighborhood Volunteer: Margaret Buraimoh, tenant rights/housing reform activist
  • School Activist: Ray Moreno, Blair High School Takoma
  • Spirit: Tara Egan and Gene Herman, organizers, July 4th parade
  • Tak-Tivist: Cindy Dyballa, member Takoma Park Environment and Recreation Committees

To a person, each of the winners humbly received his or her award and attributed the motivation for their efforts to living in a wonderful city. One winner summed up the entire festival day well, “Takoma Park is a great community.”

This article appeared in the June 2016 edition of the Takoma Park Newsletter. The Takoma Park Newsletter is available for download here.