Friends of Morningside Park celebrated the last official weekend of summer with a big bash. On Sept. 17, the volunteer community-based organization, which works to preserve the historic Harlem park, held its ninth annual Our Common Ground festival to celebrate the rich cultural diversity of the surrounding community.
From just before noon until six that evening, the park hosted a long list of stage performances, sports activities, artist exhibitions and food vendors.
Sponsored by Columbia, Barnard, the Manhattan School of Music and the Harlem Arts Alliance, the festival focused on children-centered activities and drew nearly 100 neighborhood kids.
Barnard College President Judith Shapiro gave a brief introduction to the celebration, followed by remarks from J. Reyes-Montblanc, president of Community Board 9, and Marcia Sells, assistant vice president of government and community affairs at Columbia. The festival began with the Lion Dancers, a group of Columbia and Barnard students performing traditional Chinese dance. As participants strolled throughout the park -- which runs from 110 th to 123 rd Streets between Manhattan Avenue , Morningside Avenue and Morningside Drive -- they were treated to musical performances by groups ranging from jazz bands to gospel choirs.
Kids may have gotten the best of the deal, by joining the many sports competitions, including a double Dutch jump rope contest, a basketball clinic and an African dance class. Smaller children were entertained with craft sessions. Paper and book art, face painting, a scavenger hunt and a science table were on hand to keep everyone busy.
For more information on the festival and to view more pictures, visit www.morningsidepark.org.