A Peace Day celebration Friday night at Norris Park connected Tahlequah to other communities around the world involved in similar activities.
About 200 people gathered to share their support of peace in the world by attending the third annual event which included live music, a speaker, a circle dance, children’s art, booths and a peace parade.
Storyteller Peggy Kaney believes its important to make connections to the world community.
“It’s easy to forget how inter-related we are, and how events going on in other parts of the world we’re connected to, even though we may feel unconnected to them,” Kaney said. “Looking around here and seeing how much fun people are having, it gives you a good feeling to know you can be a part of something peaceful like this. Like the old song says, ‘Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.’”
People of all ages with varied interests and ideas of what peace means gathered to focus on having more peace in their homes, community, and world.
Mindy Hendrix, Tahlequah event founder, reminded participants the event was one of many being held around the world.
“There are so many groups all over the world tonight joining in spirit, and this connects us to one another,” said Hendrix. “I’m so grateful for everyone who helped organize this and for all those who came tonight to show their support for making our world a more peaceful and loving place.”
Children played all across Norris Park, from the playground, to making chalk art and just running and laughing with friends. Olga Leeper, a physics teacher at Northeastern State University was enjoying watching her son play with other children.
“I brought my son to enjoy something peaceful,” said Leeper. “People here are very accepting.”
Peace starts in your heart, said Denise LaGrand.
“It’s so easy in our everyday life to focus on the negative; there are so many negative things that happen it’s easy to dwell on them, and that’s what you give back to the world,” LaGrand said.
“It takes work to chose to turn something into a positive, but when you give positive that’s what comes back to you.”
To LaGrand’s daughter, Michele Schmidt, world peace is thinking of everyone as equals and assuming everyone else does the same, she said.
“I came to support everyone’s efforts to put this event on,” Schmidt said. “I have an online community I share about world peace with all the time, but this is the second time I’ve been here to celebrate with friends and family.”
Like a smile, music is one of those common denominators all around the world that people can enjoy regardless of what language they speak. Franke Lee rocked the crowd with a variety of tunes.
Patrick Whelan said the combination of the music and family drew him to the even.
“It’s a wonderful park to show off,” said Whelan. “An event like this brings the community together with a peaceful crowd. It’s so much fun to watch the children.”
Mayor Jason Nichols brought his family to the event. He said likes seeing so many people enjoying themselves in the downtown park.
“We have about 15 activities in the park in the next month,” he said. “It’s a sign of a vibrant downtown.”
World peace is one of those concepts you can’t be against, Nichols said.
“I’m glad someone took the initiative to organize it,” said Nichols. “We appreciate Mindy for doing this.”
The final event was a parade around the perimeter of Norris Park, led by a giant peace dove puppet and about 100 people singing about the hope of peace in the world.
Toni Bailey participated in the parade, as did one of her rescue dogs.
“One of the best parts of this is we can let our children run and we don’t have to carefully monitor them because they are safe here,” Bailey said.
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