Gray rec center to host diverse holiday festival

Area youngsters will get a chance to learn about the meanings behind the Christmas tree, the Kwanzaa candles, and the dreidel, in Riverdale this weekend.

The Virginia Burton Gray Recreation Center is scheduled to host its annual, free-to-attend Cross Culture Winter Carnival, on Saturday.

The event is designed to enlighten children about different winter celebrations that are observed by different cultures. Keith Strong, the center’s program manager, said the festivities will focus on three holiday celebrations: Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

“The purpose ... is to entertain the kids, while also showing them how other people celebrate the holidays,” Strong said.

The event will run Saturday, from 2 p.m., to 4 p.m., at the center, which is located at 1475 East Fayetteville Road, in Riverdale. Strong said this will mark the third year that the recreation center has held the carnival, which he said mixes entertainment with cultural-diversity education.

The Cross Culture Winter Carnival is expected to include arts-and-crafts activities, traditional carnival-style games, food, information booths on each of the three holiday celebrations, and a presentation by local storyteller, Akbar Imhotep, according to the recreation center’s program manager.

Strong said children who attend the carnival will be able to make up to 10 arts-and-crafts items that they can take home with them.

He said the items will mainly be tied to the three holidays that the event is focusing on, although there will be some winter items available that are not tied to any specific holiday.

“There’ll be able bracelets, Santa Claus hats that they can wear, and snowflakes that they can hang up,” he said. He added that the arts-and-crafts items would include holiday symbols, such as Kwanzaa candles and menorahs.

Imhotep, who also tells stories through the Atlanta-based Wren’s Nest, is expected to share holiday stories between 3 p.m., and 3:30 p.m., Strong said.

Call (770)603-4001, for more information about the carnival.