TOMS RIVER – Our cultures tell us where we came from. It provides a background, and a solidarity with others who share the same culture. However, sometimes it means we don’t mingle with others who have different cultures.
That’s why it was so important for all of them to be invited to the Around The World In Toms River event that was held on Labor Day. It was celebrated with games, prizes, music, activities, food trucks and more.
Arrivals were given an international passport and invited to learn from others. There were more than 200 handed out – one to a family – in the first 45 minutes, Police Chief Mitch Little said. So, there were easily a few hundred in attendance despite the foreboding grey clouds.
If it sounds like a small, local version of Epcot, you’re on the right track. There were booths set up where people could learn more about their neighbors. Visitors could have their passport signed as they went exploring. If they visited every booth, they won a prize.
“The community really came together for this event,” Little said. “We will be meeting with the event committee to plan next year’s event. Although we considered it a true success, we have a few ideas on what we can do to make it even bigger and better in years to come.”
The event grew out of meetings of Toms River UNITED (Uniting Neighbors In Town Everyday), a group of civic leaders concerned about growing hostilities between groups.
“Toms River is a town of over 90,000 residents,” Little said. “We are a very diverse town and I have found in talking to residents, of all walks of life, we are more alike than we are different. It is encouraging to see our great community come together to learn about each other. We watched children sing, danced traditional Filipino and Greek dances, listened to bagpipes, toured various religions and in the midst of it all we were one town, together, having fun.”