By Clara Niel
Families, students, and College Park residents came together to kick off the 10th Anniversary of College Park Day by celebrating the city with eccentric performances, delicious food and fun activities.
Over 85 red and white tents lined the streets of the College Park Aviation Museum with vendors, advertisers and University of Maryland departments. For Gloria Aparicio Blackwell, director of community engagement at this university, College Park Day was an opportunity to connect the campus community with the city.
“The university isn’t an island,” Blackwell said. “It’s a part of the community.”
Blackwell organized for multiple departments and clubs to come to the event including the Department of Environmental Safety, Sustainability and Risk, members of The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and Terps Racing.
Terps Racing brought out a racing car that they worked on themselves in the basement of the J.M. Patterson Building. Their compact vehicle, which can reach up to 100 mph, generated crowds of people. 2020 Formula IC team leader Jessica Rosenthal and her peers gladly put kids in the seat of their car and showed them how it worked.
“It’s really good for us when we see people excited about what we’re excited about,” Rosenthal said. “We really try to engage with local businesses and connect with different people.”
The event hosted lively music that kept the crowd smiling and dancing throughout the day. Crush Funk Band filled the air with powerful brass sounds, mixing jazz and funk music. Cumbia One Band got people up on their feet with upbeat salsa tunes.
DaCadence, a coed and competitive a cappella group from the University of Maryland, also performed. Throughout the day, they did pop-up performances with various songs, including a Beyoncé medley.
“It’s really great when you get a positive reaction from the audience, whether that means that we inspire them or empower them,” sophomore vocal performance major Andy Boggs said. “We just kind of want to bring joy to our audience in any way we can.”
This year’s College Park Day was in the making since March 2019 according to Ryna Quinones, communications coordinator of College Park. College Park Mayor Patrick L. Wojahn emphasized how the event evolved since its first celebration in 2010.
“I remember when we started this out. It really has blossomed into something pretty amazing that really brings the community together,” Wojahn said.
Having only moved to College Park a month ago, Mandy Newman was thankful the event could help her children. Maggie Newman, 9, and Gavin Newman, 11, laughed and raced in an airplane bounce house with other kids they met earlier.
“I want to get my kids comfortable in a new place and integrate them because moving is hard. This is great to learn about where we’re living,” Newman said.
Another resident, Bruce Gibson, came back from Florida to celebrate his grandson’s birthday. Gibson was a resident of College Park from 1978 to 2000 and said the city is better now that they have the event.
“It’s a chance for the community to come together,” Gibson said. “People come out and meet each other and get their mind off of the life nonsense.”
As helicopters flew over the event towards the end of the day, families, residents and students alike looked up in awe and clapped: A united reaction for a city that came together a little more.