New Community’s 31st Annual Parade and Festival was one massive block party. But in addition to the live entertainment, delicious food and family friendly activities, NCC used the event to showcase the vast range of services it offers: housing, job development, education and healthcare.
Marchers from each NCC department took to the streets of Newark, proudly holding banners and signs to represent the role they play in serving inner city residents. “New Community plays a vital role in the community,” said Lisa Chavis, senior case manager at Harmony House, NCC’s transitional housing facility for homeless families.
Led by the marching band and dancers of Weequahic High School, the parade followed a new route this year along South Orange Avenue, Camden Street and 14th Avenue, through NCC’s family housing complexes. Both young and old marched in the parade—from seniors lined up with Health and Social Services staff and their NCC building banners to infants from the early learning centers riding in strollers. Girl Scout Troop 51030 from Newark showed their support by marching in the parade as well.
The parade float representing NCC headquarters followed the line of marchers and its theme encapsulated NCC’s mission since its founding in 1968 by Monsignor William J. Linder. Built with colorfully painted boxes transformed to look like Legos, the float put a playful spin on the traditional mission statement: Building Communities Block By Block.
At the end of the route, parade marchers and community members gathered for a street festival that included a children’s fun zone with a video game truck, pony rides, bouncy house and slide. About 15 vendors had tables, two deejays played music and a beer garden was set up in Meditation Park.
NCC staff served about 300 free hot dogs, popcorn and cotton candy to children, according to Edward Morris, Director of Youth Services.
Philanthropy Officer Tracey Battles, who coordinated the parade and festival, said the day was a special opportunity for NCC staff and residents to “gather in a social capacity and enjoy each other.”
Tytiana Belton, 13, has lived at NCC Manor Family II for six years and said she always looks forward to the parade and festival. “Every year we come and it’s so much fun,” she said.
Added Gloria Harrison, a retired educator who lives at NCC Commons Senior, “The weather held up beautiful.”