12390113671?profile=RESIZE_710xEvent founder Susan Berkowitz-Schwartz (center in red) with some of the attendees at a past All People’s Day event at Pompey Park in Delray Beach. Photo provided

By Faran Fagen

When Susan Berkowitz-Schwartz moved to Delray Beach almost two decades ago, she and her husband made it their mission to visit as many cultural festivals as possible, for research as well as enjoyment.

She planned to bring to South Florida her All People’s Day, an arts festival that had much success unifying people of different cultures and backgrounds in New Jersey.

“People said no one would come, that people would stick with their own festivals, and I said, ‘they will come,’” Berkowitz-Schwartz said. “I invited all these people who organized all the local festivals and they came — and brought their family and friends.”

The first nonprofit All People’s Day at Pompey Park in Delray Beach welcomed 300 people. Now, with the 15th annual event set for March 30 at Pompey,  650 people are expected. Many of them are children.

“Every year, the same core people come, and every year we have new people,” said Berkowitz-Schwartz, the founder and president of All People’s Day. “We want everyone to be exposed to all the culture and art in the world.”

APD is a celebration of art, music and dance, with a wide array of activities for both children and adults.

Some of the highlights planned for this festival include puppet-making, 14 song and dance performers, Craft Dough People workshop, and an All People’s Day family mural where kids and their parents connect to other families.

“All People’s Day is about connecting people from many different cultures through the arts because the arts touch people’s hearts,” said Berkowitz-Schwartz.

She is no stranger to the unifying and healing powers of art. Diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age, she learned to express herself through art. Although she had difficulty reading, her mom encouraged her to develop her skills through painting, drawing and sculpting. She eventually got her master’s in art therapy.

“I found that I was good at something,” she said. “Everyone needs to know that they’re good at something and that they can find it.”

The main portion of the festival takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and features 14 diverse song and dance performers. Among those set to perform are Cecilia St. King, whose songs have spiritual messages; the Delray Divas, doing African-American step dancing; South Florida Taiko Drummers; Pink Slip, European duo singers; Rosa Showers, who offers total body fitness including the audience; Angel, a Caribbean-American singer; Rod MacDonald, a European folk singer; Simone Huete, leading Zumba that includes the audience; Kailani C, a young dancer; the Gay Men’s Chorus, and Carol Garrett singing Jewish songs.

A free indoor event on Easter weekend, the festival will have 50 interactive booths — many showcasing nonprofit organizations — and free food from local restaurants representing diverse cultures.

Among restaurants scheduled to participate are Ziree Thai & Sushi; Paella De España; Bud’s Chicken & Seafood; Maoz, featuring vegetarian cuisine; Goldstein’s Haitian Café; Agliolio, featuring Italian food, and Furin Thai.

Prior to the main events is the kids’ free Craft Dough People workshop for ages 4 to 11 held from 9:30 until 11 a.m.

“The lesson is that we’re all made from the same materials and therefore we should all be treated with equal respect,” Berkowitz-Schwartz said of the workshop.

Free parking is again available, but this year guests will be asked to park a block away at S.D. Spady Elementary School because of Pompey Park renovations.

Vendor registration is required and can be done by contacting Berkowitz-Schwartz at apd22@bellsouth.net.

If You Go
What: 15th All People’s Day Diversity Festival
Where: Pompey Park, 1101 NW Second St., Delray Beach
When: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. March 30
Cost: Free
Info: allpeoplesday.org

For more information or to learn more about sponsorship, visit allpeoplesday.org.

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