Community unity

DOWNTOWN GLENDALE — The ninth annual Unity Fest on Sunday was bigger than ever, with dozens of performers, craftsmen, cultures and cuisines featured in the celebration along Brand Boulevard.

Thousands of area residents checked out vendors and exhibitions and sampled the culinary diversity of Glendale.

For Glendale resident Murray Ansell, the day represents a valuable idea.

"Bringing people together is great," he said with a slight New Zealand accent. "I just think the whole concept is great."

For his twin 12-year-old boys, the highlight was the ice cream and red velvet cupcakes.

"And the Italian ice was good," said Andrew Ansell.

Hispanic, Asian, European and other traditions were displayed throughout the five-hour event, which culminated with the city donating three buses and six police motorcycles to the Mexican city of Rosarito Beach, one of Glendale's sister cities.

"I love Unity Fest," said Joylene Wagner, vice president of the Glendale Unified Board of Education and a member of the Unity Fest planning committee. "It's a great community event and gets people out and listening to each other."

Rik Fox, a committee member, was dressed in 17th Century Polish Calvary fashion. As part of Suligowski's Regiment, Fox had a keen understanding of international relations between Christian Europe and its Muslim invaders in 1683.

"We're about building bridges," he said. "It was an era of history that existed; there's nothing you can do to erase it, but we can use it as something positive to learn about our differences."

One hundred years later, he said, Poland and Turkey became allies.

The performances and cultural exhibition were an opportunity for residents and tourists to learn about the traditions and legacy celebrated by the various ethnicities across the region, organizers said.

Vendors sold fresh fruits, plants, jewelry, Native American handicrafts and fashion. Children slid down a two-story inflatable slide while a jazz band played near California Avenue.

South of Lexington Drive, families lined the west side of Brand Boulevard seeking shade while a reggae band played.

Television star Mario Lopez made a cameo and praised the day's themes.

For Arleta resident Skye Borgman, the day amounted to a splendid summer day in October.

"We're just shopping around," she said. "It's the music, and we're just enjoying the day."

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