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Kaleidoscope of cultures

By Thomas R. Collins
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 31, 2005

WEST PALM BEACH — Beth Damon and Don Mason might have just returned from a trip around the globe. They lugged a colorfully painted pitcher from Haiti. A journal from Indonesia with a banana-leaf cover. And a finely carved soup bowl from Africa with the body of a giraffe for a handle.

Their travel costs, though, were cheap. Maybe a buck or two in gas driving up from Lake Worth to Kaleidoscope, an annual cultural festival that turned the area near the city library into a radiant international patchwork Sunday.

Organizers estimated the crowd at 25,000 to 30,000, based on soda sales, and vendors said the crowd appeared to be larger than last year's. Tito Puente Jr., son of the Latin music great, headlined the entertainment.

"We like how they're putting all these cultures in the middle of our town," said Damon, 47. "I love seeing all the kids."

And there were kids aplenty. Seventeen schools, most of them paired with local cultural groups, created exhibits representing 17 nations and cultures.

Kara Verge, 11, was so taken with Gold Coast Community Middle and High School's exhibit about Finland that she wanted to move there because they value their natural resources more than Americans.

"We use, like, too much of our stuff," Verge said.

Elsewhere, students performed the tinikling, the Filipino national folk dance, lectured adults on how King Ludwig of Germany loved Wagner's plays, and ushered visitors into Scottish castles.

Art teacher Jana Newton from Toussaint L'Ouverture High School said this year's project on Native American culture got her students especially excited.

"This was the most popular project that we've ever done at the school," she said, standing among teepees. "This particular Kaleidoscope was the best."

The following prizes were awarded: best overall village, Guyana-Trinidad, Suncoast High School ($500) and the Florida Hindu Cultural and Religious Association ($300); best educational environment, Nicaragua, Lake Worth Middle School ($250) and the Nicaraguan Association ($175); most creative and authentic representation of a culture, Spain, Okeeheelee Middle School ($425); and best first-time participant, Philippines, Jefferson Davis Middle School ($250) and the United Filipino American Association ($175).

Copyright © 2005, Palm Beach Post

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