By ALLAN FRANCISCO
Published: Monday, September 12, 2011 | 8:26 AM
Organizers from the Altadena-based Abundant Harvest Christian Center say their first-ever Altadena Citywide Outreach and Festival on Sept. 10 attracted over 2,000 to a day-long affair designed to “reinvigorate the Pasadena and Altadena communities.”
The festival was staged on three plateaus behind buildings on North Lake Ave., where the incline is steep, and at the top, on its fourth level, festival booths and crowds filled Calaveras Street in Altadena.
The weather, which earlier had threatened showers, turned sunny and humid. The smell of frying catfish and ribs filled the air along with music and singing.
“What’s going on today is all about bringing community together, specifically, the neighbors, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and churches together,” said Pastor Anthony McFarland. “We aim to show people that together we become a force to reckon with.”
The festival, which organizers said was built around the theme “”Community is the key… not just for one day, but for everyday!,” offered a range of activities, including a job fair, seminars about health and financial management for seniors, as well as free health and dental care.
“We are giving back to the community to help save lives, for the vendors that need support, and businesses that need to be acknowledged,” said McFarland, describing the event, which also saw the participation of the City of Hope Blood Drive Mobile, USC School of Dentistry, Healthcare Partners, the Los Angeles County Sheriff, and the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Altadena resident Julie Flores was one of the thousands who attended the event. “I’m enjoying this,” said Flores, who came to the festival with her daughter and son. “I appreciate the chance to learn things and get information that can benefit people who came,” Flores added.
“People are busy, and this is the weekend of 9/11,” said Event coordinator Phlunté Riddle, describing the factors that could have deterred some people from coming to the event. “But this is San Gabriel Valley. It is a great community, so people wanted to come.”
The event focused on the value of community. “I think the number one reason why crime occurs is apathy, when we don’t know each other, when we don’t care about each other,” said Riddle. But when people care about each other, they have a connection. “Community is all about connection. When we have connection, we can help each other out, look out for each other, and support one another.”
“I’m glad for this opportunity. I’m glad that Abundant Christian Center was able to connect and partner with this great community of Altadena,” said Riddle. “We are looking forward to doing it again next year.”
“Today is about bringing the community together and crossing ethnic, cultural, denominational, and political lines,” said McFarland. “We can become a nation the way God wants us to be.”