Cultures came together Sunday for the first “Holidays Around the World” event.
“This event just represents so many different and diverse religions and ethnicity (in our city) and that’s really what we are,” said Myrna Charry, one of the organizers of the event, held at the Punta Gorda History Park on West Charlotte Avenue and Shreve Street in Punta Gorda.
“We live together peacefully and we want to live together peacefully.”
There are several local historic buildings at the History Park. Each was decorated, exhibiting different cultures from around the world and the holidays they celebrate.
“We have cultural representations from India, Islam, Spanish, Ukrainian, Jewish and the United States,” said Margaret Bogardus, president of the Punta Gorda Historical Society, the local organization that oversees the park. “Group representatives picked the buildings themselves that they wanted to decorate.”
The historic buildings will remain decorated for a month with children’s events on Dec. 15 and Dec. 22.
“We need to teach the children and the community about the different heritage that resides in Charlotte County,” Bogardus said.
Sushila Cherian, who represented the India exhibit, said Charlotte County seems to forget just how diverse it is.
“We are such a diverse community,” Cherian said. “Which doesn’t seem to be apparent for many people but our cultural togetherness ... all of us working together is our small community is truly wonderful.”
Punta Gorda Council Member Jaha Cummings also attended the grand opening of the event.
“I think this is an important celebration of who we are,” Cummings said. “We are in the History Park because it celebrates our pioneer beginnings (which began in the late 1800s) and shows the community that we’ve become. So it’s just a perfect opportunity for us to enjoy and celebrate each other.”
From 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Dec. 15 and 22, organizers of the event invited families and their children to experience the different cultures. Admission is $8 per family or individual adults for $3. Parking is free.
The event is organized by the Cultural Heritage Center of Southwest Florida and the Punta Gorda Historical Society. All children’s activities, which include cookie decorating, shell and rock painting, ornament making and clay crafting, are free. Food trucks, cultural food samples and performances will also be available.