Arts in the Park

January 18, 2011
We live in antagonistic times. In misguided neighborhoods, it is not safe for children to play in a public park or take a quick walk around the block to a friend’s house. Parent’s worry when their children walk to and from school, supplying cell phones in case of emergency. Virtually all children have had the “stranger talk” with their mom and dad. It is an effective speech given by most parents, but it does not change that which will always be stirring outside the safe walls of a warm home. We may not be able to eliminate the danger and fear, but we can do something to make the community a safer place than it is today. Community service helps build the community and you as a person. It is fulfilling enough to know you are doing your part to help.
I have consistently been involved in the community and have always volunteered with the daycare at my church. However, I had the lucky opportunity to sign up and help set up “Arts in the Park” last December. This was a first time small festival in the afternoon put on by my high school. “Arts in the Park” was going to run smoothly with help from all the various arts that make our school, the creative melting pot it is. The cost to get into the festival was absolutely free. It was for our community. Our school’s PTO provided everyone attending with complimentary drinks and snacks to munch on during the event. Our dance, choir, and band were performing for everybody and anybody for 4 hours straight. Thinking to myself, this was going to be a small outside entertainment festival, no big deal. I arrived at 11:00am to help move platforms, the stage, from our school to the middle of Washington Park. This was anything but easy work. We had about seven students set up the whole area for the presenters.
Once all the stage platforms were transferred to the park a few theatre kids, including myself, dedicated all our time and effort into building the stage. We lifted, turned, and twisted the stage till it was perfect. During this process we couldn’t help but notice the art work being hung up 10 yards away from us. When we had finished setting up the stage, we simultaneously wandered over towards the hypnotic pictures calling each of our names. In a trance, I helped the art teacher set up bulletin boards and dividers to place the student art work on. Every chance I got, I would sneak a peek of the abstract drawings about to be presented to their audience. When I was done I finally got the chance to pay my full respects to the artists and masterpieces. I was then chosen to go back to the school and bring back a few more tables and chairs for the 3D design section. I was not at all agitated that I had to do more hard labor. Something inside me felt right. I knew if I brought more tables then more beautiful art work would be displayed for me to admire. Sure enough more art work was placed, and by this time we were all set up. A friend and I had all the time in the world now to stare into the distress and color in each piece.
After about three and a half hours of setting up and making sure everyone had what they needed the set up crew decided to sit down and watch. I turned around and saw a mass of people. Parents came so see their kids. Brothers and sisters came to support their siblings. Random people taking walks or playing baseball in the park decided to rush over and join the fun. It put a smile on my face seeing others enjoy what I helped create. For 4 hours nothing else mattered but everyone around me. Their happiness radiated off them hitting my soul brightening my day. Kids sang along to Christmas carols and clapped their tiny little hands to the band. It was nice to be outside sharing the same experience with more than a few dozen people.
“Arts in the Park” was a success. This experience helped me realize a lot I never knew I would. My school brought the community, friends, and family together. I hope this will continue as an annual event. It’s a day when everyone can come to the park bring their kids and dogs and enjoy the company of neighbors. They can also appreciate the arts which get pushed aside in most high schools. I would give anything to experience a feeling as amazing as this one. The smiles on the crowds face was all the thanks anybody could ask for. Sign me up for the next inspiring event.

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