Memorial Day/Weekend with food, fun, fellowship, parade, and TSA
By La Prensa Staff
TOLEDO, May 25, 2019: If Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial
kickoff to summer, families in Northwest Ohio and Southeast
Michigan had plenty of ways to celebrate the season.
On May 25th, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC)
tried something new—reaching out to its neighbors with a
first-ever picnic at Golden Rule Park. FLOC staff
welcomed about 50 people under a tent on a warm afternoon, while
grilling hot dogs and serving a potluck lunch.
Baldemar Velásquez and Sesario Durán.
“We’re going to make it an annual event and we’re going to
invite just the public, the citizens of this neighborhood,”
explained Baldemar Velásquez, FLOC founder and president.
“We’re going to put the ‘neighbor’ back in the ‘hood,’ as the
motto of our Homies Union. Involve the youth, bring their
parents and kids, little brothers and sisters, just offer a free
FLOC staff and volunteers passed out leaflets throughout the
neighborhood inviting families to the picnic. The migrant
farmworkers union is encouraged by the response from neighbors.
“We get to know each other. There’s a young man who lives just
down the street. Throwing a football, never knew he was there
and he never knew we were here,” said Velásquez. “Getting to
know each other. When you get to know each other, you get to
know and learn about things and people. You put more empathy
into people’s situations that live near you and try to bring the
FLOC staff took some time during the picnic to introduce
themselves and talk about their roles.
“We want to bring the outside world attention to this
neighborhood,” Velásquez told the gathering. “We want to make it
better. We want to make it safe so families can raise their
kids. Whatever little we have, we’re going to share with this
He explained past and present activities and campaigns,
including the effort to install LED lighting in the Old
South End to reduce crime and keep kids safe. Now the campaign
has gone city-wide, with an emphasis of ensuring poorer
neighborhoods get the new lighting first. The goodwill effort
did meet with some mistrust along the way, as organizers have
“We do. But we talk about it. We bring the humanity into the
discussion, so you can see the person you might have had a
misconceived notion about, some clarification,” said Velásquez.
“For instance, I invited the police department, but asked them
to leave their guns at home, so people will see them as a human
being and not a law enforcement officer and get to know one
another. (We’ve encouraged police as part of the code of
conduct) to take an hour away from their shift to just go
knocking on doors and introduce themselves, get to know them by
That relationship-building on a personal level, almost the
equivalent of community policing, can help rebuild trust with
neighborhood residents, according to the FLOC
president—especially if they’re on a first-name basis instead of
‘Hey you!’ shouted from a patrol car.
The Believe Center
The annual Keep Sports Alive carnival at the Believe
Center saw a good Saturday afternoon crowd before a line of
storms interrupted the rides, games, and activities. Organizers
admit they’ve had to battle spring storms ever since the annual
carnival started several years ago.
“We’re really hoping the rain holds off the rest of the weekend
so we can have a great carnival,” said Elaina Hernández,
whose El Corazón de México Ballet Folklorico dance troupe
gave a Saturday performance. “It’s nice to have something in the
In addition to the standard carnival rides and food booths, the
Believe Center brought in Glovation to entertain
the crowds with hula hoops and lights, hosted hula hoop and lip
sync contests on Kids Day. The carnival proceeds go back into
the center’s programming in order to keep it “low cost and
affordable” for families, according to Ms. Hernández.
Inside the center, Junior Olympics boxing matches kept fans on
their feet as young athletes gave their best inside the ring.
The two simultaneous events ensured a solid crowd and attracted
new participants to the center’s array of youth programming, as
well as provided boxers and their families something to do
between boxing matches.
“We do draw folks from the neighborhood who don’t normally know
about our programs,” said Tonya Durán, Believe Center
executive director. “Today I met two families that didn’t even
know the Believe Center existed. I got to explain the mission of
sports along with coping, survival skills taught to our kids all
under one umbrella.”
The center has now developed a wide portfolio of sports and
other programming, including flag and tackle football,
basketball, baseball, boxing, tennis, soccer, cheerleading and
dance. In June, the center will open its Believe Academy
Daycare, which is meant to round out meeting all the needs
of families and kids in the neighborhood. The hope is to add an
occupational therapist within the next year to add further
The Keep Sports Alive
fundraising campaign began as an annual raffle 13 years ago, but
was converted to a carnival seven years ago, “because it was
easier” to manage, said Ms. Durán. The event likely will be
rebranded to the Believe Center Carnival next year for
Earlier that day, Lucas County entertained a Memorial Day parade
in downtown Toledo. The Toledo School for the Arts also
graduated its 1,000-plus student in a ceremony at the Valentine
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05/28/19 22:03:10 -0700.