Weather dampens attendance at off-campus festival

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Rain showers and clouds cut attendance at the performance-packed Race and Festival for World Peace just off-campus Saturday.

The event featured a five-kilometer run and performances by different multi-cultural groups that presented varied pieces like Spanish Flamenco dance and African drumming.

“The goal of today is to raise awareness of Sister Cities and its programs,” said Frances Reimer, a spokesperson for Sister Cities International, the organization running the event.

Sister Cities International, a non-profit organization started by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1956, works to maintain create better connections between individuals in different countries.

Sister Cities offers programs that “form partnerships with cities around the globe,” Reimer said, matching more than 600 U.S. cities with international communities in 135 countries. Programs between these communities include visiting exchanges, youth programs and work on economic development.

“Especially now, it’s important to be more economically involved in global economy and learn from one another,” Reimer said.

The morning’s race featured a route in and around the GW campus and the finish line at 21st and Pennsylvania was also the home of the festive cultural presentations.

“There were 89 people today in their very first race,” Reimer said. “It was a great turnout despite the weather.”

As rain and cloudiness continued into the afternoon, however, a number of people began filing out of the festival, leaving the music and dance groups to a limited audience of about 30 attendees. The remaining audience members were a mix of runners and families with children, taking advantage of the festival’s kid-friendly clowns and balloon animals.

Although GW had a front row seat to the afternoon’s events students were few and far between. The performances and free food, however, did attract several groups of students who stopped, if only momentarily, to watch the dance routines or munch on free hummus and pita bread.

Freshman Olivia Fonti said the Fantaziya Ukrainian Dance Ensemble caught her attention on her way to breakfast, causing her change her plans for the day.

“I didn’t know this was happening, but I definitely would have come earlier if I had known about it,” Fonti said. “It’s a really cool idea.”

Reimer remained optimistic about the day and the goals of Sister Cities, despite the less-than-ideal weather.

“Weather definitely affected turnout, but we’ve got a phenomenal performers showcase,” Reimer said. “At the end of the day, we all love art, we all love beauty, we all want to live in a globe of tolerance and understanding.”

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