Port Towns residents enjoyed sunny skies Saturday at Bladensburg Waterfront Park to celebrate their partnership and commitment to healthy living at the 16th annual Port Towns Day.
Residents engaged in boat rides in the Anacostia River, arts and crafts, rock climbing, hula hoop contests, face painting and other activities. The Port Towns are Bladensburg, Colmar Manor, Cottage City and Edmonston.
“The biggest thing we are focused on is community,” said Sadara Barrow, executive director of the Port Towns Community Development Corp., and an organizer of the event. “We wanted to bring people out to get to know each other and experience the diversity.”
Barrow estimated that about 10,000 people attended the event.
Health and wellness was emphasized this year with organizers handing out free pedometers at an information booth. If residents walked 400 steps they would get three free raffle tickets for a chance to win various prizes including tennis rackets, basketballs, cookbooks and free canoe passes.
Residents were also encouraged to visit a truck manned by nurses from Kaiser Permanente to get free health assessments that included determining the resident’s body mass index and blood pressure level.
As part of the Port Towns Community Health Partnership, more than 50 youths wearing green shirts labeled “wellness ambassadors” volunteered to help with the event. Some of the youth volunteers performed a step and line routine during the day to get other community members involved in the dance to promote active living.
Christian Gomillion, 14, of Bladensburg distributed programs about Port Towns Day and healthy living.
“Not enough people know how bad the obesity epidemic is,” Christian said. “Our goal is just inform people and help them to make better choices to get them on the straight and narrow path to having good health.”
Riverdale resident Dorka Urbano watched her eight-year-old son, Danny, as he played with hula hoops in the park.
“It feels good to be out here,” she said. “It’s a time to share.”
This year marked the first year that Mexican Independence Day was celebrated in the park along with Port Towns Day. Vendors were set up selling tacos and other Mexican food, as well as a stage with a large Mexican flag.
Previously, Mexican Independence Day was celebrated near Town Hall, but mostly only Hispanics would attend, said Bladensburg Councilman Cris Mendoza (Ward 1), who helped to organize the celebration for Mexican Independence Day. Having the two events linked together helped to bring the Port Town’s Hispanic community out with the rest of the public, he said.
This year, 94 vendors set up booths around the park.
Bladensburg Mayor Walter Lee James said the event was important to keep community members meeting each other and keep the Port Towns collaboration strong.
“We are dealing with communities that are our size,” he said. “Because we are smaller communities it makes sense for us to partner together.”