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Festival hopes to bridge cultural gap

The Festival of Hope will have all the makings of a good time – music, international food, story tellers and, of course, piсatas.
“You can’t have a party without piсatas,” said the Rev. Mel Burton, a board member with the Multicultural Center of Hope.
The event will be held April 22 at the Boger City United Methodist Church. Organizers have two goals – to raise awareness of the Multicultural Center of Hope and to bridge the gap between cultures.
It also won’t hurt if participants have some fun. The festival will include food sold by area churches ranging from Mexican and Costa Rican to standard hot dogs and hamburgers. There will also be dancing, live music and information from community organizations.
For the kids there will be a fire truck available for up close and personal viewing, games and several entertainers.
Irania Patterson, a published children’s book author, will be on hand to share stories, and “Becky the Balloon Lady” will work her magic with balloons.
“She will keep the kids entertained for quite awhile,” said Marlene Arroyo, an organizer.
Anyone who wants to participate in the festival can do so – all it takes is a table and $25 fee. Arroyo hopes more people become involved, especially anything that fits with the festival’s multicultural theme.
As for the Multicultural Center itself, the fledgling organization has found itself quite busy.
Arroyo makes up the one-woman staff, and it’s her job to act as a link between clients and local services.
She’s helped immigrants in need of medical and dental care, worked as an interpreter and even given rides to people with no other options.
“We won’t turn anybody away,” Arroyo said. “We will find a way to help them.”
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Want to go? The Festival of Hope will take place April 22 at the Boger City United Methodist Church April 22 from 2 to 6 p.m. For more information or to host a table call (704) 748-1218.
The Multicultural Center of Hope is the Latino ministry of the Gastonia District of the United Methodist Church in Lincoln County.
by Sarah Grano

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