New performers for Unity Fest

GLENDALE — A stretch of Brand Boulevard will be filled with food, art and dance from around the world Sunday as part of Glendale’s annual celebration of its ethnic and cultural diversity.

The eighth annual Unity Fest, established by former Councilman Bob Yousefian, taps performance, food and artistry to help ease ethnic tensions and foster cultural understanding among different ethnic groups. It has since grown to be one of the city’s landmark events.

Scheduled to take place from noon to 6 p.m on Brand Boulevard between California Avenue and Lexington Street, the event will return to downtown for the second time after moving from Verdugo Park — a move that almost tripled the event’s attendance to about 16,000 people last year.

“It was nice to see a lot of new faces attending the event last year,” said Councilman John Drayman, chairman of the event’s planning committee for the second year. “So we hope to capitalize on the best of last year and repeat and grow.”

For a city known for its expanding minority populations in recent decades — including the largest population of Armenians outside of Armenia — city officials said the event serves to bring the community together in a comfortable setting.

Drayman said he would like to see more city events downtown because they bring thousands of people to the downtown retail district and showcase the historical area.

The festival features cultural entertainment, including Korean drums and dance, the Hamazkayin Niari Group Armenian Dance and a Celtic band, among others.

For the first time, dancers from Glendale’s sister city Rosarito Beach, Mexico, will be performing at Unity Fest.

“Glendale does a lot for Rosarito, so they felt compelled to help us out,” said Efrain Olivares, president of the Glendale-Mexico Sister City Assn.

Performers will also include students from Hoover and Glendale high schools and private Holy Family High.

“We’ve never really had this at Unity Fest,” said Zizette Mullins, community relations coordinator with the city. “It’s really exciting for us to have the students.”

Other features from last year’s event will return including a children’s section with a petting zoo, climbing wall and pony rides — all free.

Parking will also be available for free in the Orange Street Garage, 222 N. Orange St.

Vendors will also be selling a wide range of foods and arts and crafts alongside vendors from the Montrose Shopping Park’s weekly “Harvest Market.”

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