Celebrate the East Side at community festival

Area residents have an opportunity to celebrate all the great things happening on the East Side at the second annual Celebrate Summer in Tacoma Festival July 16 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Held at Portland Avenue Community Center and Park near East 35th Street in Tacoma, this free festival is sponsored by Tacoma’s East Action Membership.

This year’s theme is “Growing Our Future.” Businesses can register for booths and sell their products. Many nonprofit organizations will also be on hand to provide information about their services.

It will be a family friendly event withmusic on three stages,  21 activities for adults and children, more than 40 vendors, arts and crafts, good food, and much more. 

This exciting festival offers demonstrations on creating great gardens and new environmental practices. You can learn how to be involved in community and ways to improve our lives. Come relax or dance to the music of the Kari Ehli Band, Kenny Wayne Gunner, OR1GINAL, Gray Skies Blue, Randi Ray, Chuck Wayne & Friends, and other entertainers.  Also, you can visit the booths and make your own crafts to take home, and fly a kite or throw a Frisbee across the field.

Tacoma’s East Action Membership was formed in 2003. Natalie Dam, president of the organization, said it was formed by merging McKinley Boosters and East Side Improvement Group. Upon merging, a new name was selected for the organization.

Dam said that last year rain kept attendance lower than organizers hoped for, although it drew a good turnout of groups with booths. Part of the event will be held outdoors and part indoors. So far, 40 groups have committed to participating this year. “We have a number of non-profits that are coming in,” Dam remarked.

There is no charge for those who want to attend the event. Businesses and nonprofits are charged a registration fee, which is refunded to them if they show up for the celebration.

A number of artists, entertainers and crafts people will be on hand to display their talents to the public.

Dam said the event celebrates the East Side, the people who live there and the community gardens.

“Our mission is to foster community awareness,” she said.

In May of this year, East Tacoma won an award for the Third Most Improved Neighborhood in the country from Neighborhoods USA.  In 2010, Eastside neighbors created the Green Thumb Community Garden, which has received an award from the City of Tacoma. They are also instrumental in First Creek and the Swan Creek restoration projects.  Last year, East Tacoma was written up in This Old House as being one of the best places in the country to renovate a home. Now the neighbors have created a festival celebrating the achievements and new direction for this community. So, come see what is new for gardens, arts and the environment on the Eastside of Tacoma.

She noted a major goal for her organization was to get the center at the park to re-open. It had been offline for several years. “Our first order of business was to get it back open.”

A number of non-profit organizations have been active in the facility since it re-opened, including World Vision. Catholic Community Services serves meals to senior citizens there twice a week. “We want that center to do as much as possible for the community.”

For more information, call (253) 627-5718.


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