By Jack Gilroy
Veterans for Peace & Peace Action of Broome County worked together to produce a Children’s Peace Fair this past Hiroshima Day, August 6. Adults said it was a resounding success. The abundant, joyful sound of children support that conclusion.
Early in the day, adults kept our decades-long tradition around 8 AM as we rang the huge ground bell at the First Congregational Church of Binghamton to sound off the horrific start of the nuclear weapons age, the incineration of Hiroshima.
By 10 AM all was in place for the Fair, but no kids yet. Around 10:15 a few came and then someone called out: “Look whose coming!” Children by the score were hiking to the Fair from the Urban League and Columbus Park many blocks away. Hearts were raised to see them flock around the large bell to help ring in the Children’s Peace Fair.
Some children were interviewed by local TV reporters while Hilary Rozek, Choir Director of her elementary school group, Kenny’s Kid’s, sang peace songs on the church steps. Later, Hilary would come back with 24 high school kids to perform a great song and dance routine from the play she was directing, “Lion King, Jr”. Mrs Terry Dempsey had two tables that included a Peace PhotoShop activity, multiple peace-oriented games and art such as painting peace slogans or words on rocks to be left in parks or given to others. A big attraction were parrots – birds rescued and maintained by Jennifer Jones of Parrott Rescue. She had kids feeding a large blue and gold macaw and an Australian sulfur-crested cockatoo. Helena Garan and Nancy McDonough offered kimonos for kids to try on. One young woman didn’t shed her kimono until the fair was almost over. Silvia Martinichio invited children to learn Yoga on the Front St lawn side of the church. One little three-year-old, red head stole the show among these new yoga performers. MaryEllen Gilroy had kids doing sidewalk chalk drawings of peace symbols as her sister Maureen had kids creating a large Peace Puzzle. Marlene Lausen had a table of origami papers and taught kids (and Fr. Tim Taugher) the art of paper folding. Cecily O’Neil offered kids homemade Peace Scarves as Josie & Ameerah, teenage Johnson City Middle School girls, wowed the crowd with their talented dance moves. Ann Clune, Jim Clune and Ellen Connett offered kids watermelon, ice cream bars and ice pop sticks–thanks to the generosity of Bonnie Mando and Doug Garner.
All the while our videographer, Vera Scroggins, was busy capturing the action that she later put on YouTube as a five-minute video, entitled “Children’s Peace Fair, Binghamton NY”.