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City 'shakes up' annual Unity Day

April 28, 2011

Celebrating diversity and unity is nothing new for Newton, but as the city began planning this year's Unity Day it decided the annual event needed a little something extra.

"We are trying to do something a little different," said Newton Mayor Robert Mullinax, who is chair of the Newton Human Relations Council, which organizes Unity Day. "We wanted to try to shake it up and make it a more festive atmosphere."

This year's Unity Day event is set for Saturday, 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., at Southside Park, and it promises musical entertainment, food and fun.

The event is free to the public.

The outdoor setting, combined with a festival atmosphere marks a change for the city's celebration of its diverse ethnic and racial population.

During recent years, the event was held indoors at the Newton-Conover Auditorium. Heavy on pomp and circumstance, the event was more formal occasion than festival.

"We thought it should be more of a celebration," said Newton Public Information Officer and Human Relations Council member Gary Herman. "We are removing the formality of it, and it is going to be a more festive atmosphere at the park. We hope it will be more of a fun day and a good way to celebrate diversity in an outdoor setting."

While Newton Human Relations Council moved Unity Day outdoors, it also moved it on the schedule. In the past, the event was held in mid-February.

"The second Sunday in February is not traditionally the most beautiful time, weatherwise," Mullinax said of the schedule change. "I hope this gives an opportunity for folks to come and get outside, enjoy the events and the enjoy the spring time. I hope there will be more families and more children."

When they get to Southside Park, there will also be more for event-goers to do, Herman said.

"A big thing for the kids will be the inflatables," he said. "There will be face-painting, the fire department's smokehouse and a Newton Police car will be there so they can test the siren.

"The amphitheater is going to be going non-stop with acts all day," Herman continued. "It is going to be a great day of wonderful entertainment."

From dancers and gospel groups to steel drum bands, Carolina Renaissance Festival performers and yodelers, Herman said the event has "something for everyone."

Food will also be available for sale, including ethnic foods, like Mexican and Chinese selections, to festival foods, pizza and barbecue.

With a theme of "One Community, One Humanity," Saturday's event will also includes presentation of the Unity Day Award. The award is presented annually to an "individual, business or industry that has demonstrated outstanding service to the Newton community and that has worked to improve relations among cultures and races in the city."



April 29, 2011 by Backbone (not verified), 4 years 5 weeks ago
Comment: 382

a. Instead of clebrating UNITy your are promoting divisiveness. We are a nation a state a county a town of many come together to one. (Itsa in our National Motto!) We alread have a UNITY DAY or Days. ITS CALLED "INDEPENDENCE DAY" OR VETERANS DAY, OR MOST IMPORTANTLY OLD SOLDIERS REUNION! This is a stupid way to pander to a few malcontents and "Community Organizers" who can't get over 1964! Guess what everybody in any sort of political power today was a child in 1964, so get OVER IT!
c. Just how many "festivals or celebrations" does Newton have to have each year. Pretty soon we are gonna have to have one to commemorate our Bankruptcy and loss of prestige and reduced standard of living due to mismanagement, fraud waste and abuse in City Government!

d. Hey lets call it "Broken pavement, and busted waterlines Day!"

Give me break!

A. Did you attend the Unity

May 3, 2011 by Lindsay, 4 years 4 weeks ago
Comment: 390

A. Did you attend the Unity Day festival, Backbone? If you had, you would have seen that most in attendance were of the younger generations in Newton, the generation that will one day be shaping Newton. With the ever-changing cultural landscape in this area, an understanding and knowledge of other traditions and ideologies are quite important. However, I am not naive enough to believe that the city wasn't in fact pandering to a few. But in that pandering, I do believe that our youth are learning valuable lessons.
B. While I can't tell you how much was spent on this festival, I can tell you that next to nothing is spent on the festivals/events sponsored by the Festival and Events Committee. Those events run on the hard work of the committee members and volunteers.
C. Those events also draw crowds from the hundreds to the thousands; giving those that attend the opportunity to develop a bond with their community. Those bonds encourage a drop in criminal activity and foster a desire to improve the standard of living.

If you're interested, why don't you attend one of the festival and events meetings? Or volunteer for one of the events? It sounds like you could use a little bonding with your community. The younger generation that is not involved in the politics of this town, that only want to see a community given the opportunity to come together and better itself...well, we would love to have you.

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