LaSalle Park was abuzz with the sights and sounds of worldly pride today. That’s because a World Refugee Day festival was held at the waterfront park. Even Mayor Brown made a surprise appearance at the festival, which was great to see.
Despite the threat of nasty weather hovering out over the lake, it never rained. The weather turned out to be perfect, thankfully, because although there were some large tents to offer cover, there was no way so many people would be able to fit underneath.
What started off as a soccer tournament a few years ago has blossomed into a celebration that is largely attended by refugees. I was thinking that more non-refugees would get into the action, by simply paying a visit, but maybe that’s something that will happen in future years. It’s something to think about.
Not only was the game of soccer a big hit at the event, volleyball was also another crowd favorite. So was the music, the food, and the kids’ activities.
I ran into a friend at the festival who told me that these are his favorite types of events in Buffalo (World Refugee Day, Taste of Diversity, Burmese Water Festival, etc.). He said that these “days of thanks” make him feel very proud to be a Buffalonian. This guy has lived all over the country, and he mentioned that he’s never seen anything like these multi-cultural festivals anywhere else. His sentiments struck a chord with me – for a city that has been painted with such broad segregated brushstrokes for so long, Buffalo’s West Side has become a melting pot of cultures virtually overnight.
Hopefully, in years to come, more non-refugees take the time to visit these diverse worldly celebrations that are held for the entire community to enjoy.