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By Journalist Ms. Jones
POUGHKEEPSIE – The Poughkeepsie Riverfest was held August 5th-7th in Victor Waryas Park. “Bridge the Gap on Gun Violence” was this year’s theme. On Saturday, August 6th there was a Parade on Gun Violence.
“It’s very important [to be here] because it’s just rampant… My nephew was actually involved in the crossfire of gun violence… Parents are losing too many of their children to gun violence…We need more activities for the children… to get them off the streets. A lot of the teens… just need that big brother/big sister to help guide them and they need some type of outlet other than the streets and guns,” said Danielle Wells, Independent Consultant for Paparazzi, who sold $5 jewelry at the Riverfest.
Several vendors sold their products. Members of the 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East passed out information to the community. Even the police interacted with festival goers.
“Back when I was a kid, people solved things with fists. Nowadays they want to solve something with some kind of weapon… If you’re gonna get in a confrontation, the best thing to do is talk, not get involved in any kind of fight… But definitely no kinds of weapons and definitely no guns because nothing good ever comes from that,” said Lt. Mel Clauson.
“It’s gonna take everybody’s effort [to stop gun violence]… We have a lot of programs that try to help… We actually pay people to turn in their guns. We actually pay people to give us tips on people who have guns so we can stop that kind of thing from happening. But, unless the community gets involved in it, we can’t do it alone. So, everyone’s got to be together on this and we all have to be a part of the complete solution not a part of the problem.”
Carlos Wood, Owner and Executive Chef of Gennie’s Soul Food and Mole Mole Mexican Fusion Restaurant, organized the Riverfest. This is his second year organizing it.
“Last year we focused on education.We had different schools here and if you came in with your school shirt on, we let you ride the rides for free. This year, our theme was gun violence with everything that’s going on nowadays.We just want to make [youth] aware of what’s going on and let the kids know that there are people here that’s willing to help… We just want to give them a safe environment where they can have fun and an ethnic environment as well,” said Wood who is the grandson of Gennie, a fourth generation chef, and teaches youth to cook all year long. “[The Riverfest is] important to me because when I was a child, they used to have Riverfest… All of us Afro-Americans used to live closer to the river. So, this was something that we enjoyed… Then Urban Renewal came, and they moved us up… and they cancelled the Riverfest. So, this has been missing for… years… This town needs to get more of the traditions back and maybe that will make the kids fall in line… They don’t know… It’s up to us… to show them this is how Poughkeepsie used to be. This is why Poughkeepsie is great.”
People enjoyed riding carnival rides, playing games, and eating a variety of cuisines from local restaurants and food trucks like Gennie’s Soul Food and Mole Mole Mexican Fusion, Reggae Boy Cafe, Amani’s Kitchen, DJay’s Fish Fry, Empire Jamaica Fusion, and Hellshire Cuisine. Big Drip Italian Ice helped festival goers stay cool. 2 Minds 1 Sound provided a DJ who kept the music flowing.