Building community spirit through fun

Arts Below Sunrise entertains and raises money


Hewlett and Woodmere came together for the second annual Arts Below Sunrise festival, as the food, music, arts, and attractions made Broadway in those communities the place to be last Sunday.

Children converged on the “Kids Corner,” which featured soccer shooting, courtesy of the Hewlett-Lawrence Soccer Club, outdoor bowling from Woodmere Lanes, face painting, as well as an obstacle course and instructional sword play by the Five Towns Fencing Club.

“My favorite part of the fair was the outdoor bowling because it was pretty fun and I won a free game of bowling at Woodmere Lanes,” said Cole Doyle, 12, of Woodmere.

The Hewlett Fire Department gave youngsters tours of their ambulance and fire truck, and provided information about fire safety. Adults checked out the organization boots, which included the League of Women Voters and Friends of the Hewlett-Woodmere library, and shopped at various vendors for clothing, crafts, shoes, and other items. Fair-goers munched on an array of food, including hot pretzels, cotton candy, pickles, and kebabs.

“It’s nice to see everyone coming together and having fun in the community,” said Lynbrook resident Danielle Borroni.

The festival was organized by the Hewlett-Woodmere Public Schools Endowment Fund, an independent organization, comprised of alumni, families, and friends of the Hewlett-Woodmere Public Schools. The endowment fund provides educational grants to programs in the Hewlett-Woodmere school district that aren’t covered by the public school budget.

“The Arts Below Sunrise festival is a gift to the community, and its purpose is to help build community spirit,” said Hewlett resident John Roblin, president of the endowment fund. “This event also generates funds for the endowment fund’s educational grants, which helps keep the Hewlett-Woodmere school district one of the best on Long Island.”

Hewlett High School students from the Young Leadership Forum helped staff the festival, and ran various booths and attractions. “The Young Leadership Forum is a group of students from Hewlett High School that work to bring the community together,” said sophomore Allie Tangrey, a YLF member.

The group seeks to imbue students with civic leadership skills among students and through various events raise money that is donated to charities, such as The Fistula Foundation.

“The purpose of the Young Leadership Forum is to promote a sense of community,” said Dr. David Rifkind, the advisor of the Young Leadership Forum and a board member of the endowment fund. “Think of us as ‘servant-leaders.’ We try to help the community accomplish its goals from within the community.”

From Irving Place in Woodmere to the library in Hewlett festival-goers enjoyed the arts and crafts, demonstrations, as well as the music. Woodmere resident Toby Tobias, who served as the festival’s music director, performed with his band, the Toby Tobias Ensemble, and coordinated the festival’s music performances.

“The festival highlights original musicians and their music, and brings it to our community,” he said. The festival featured an array of musical performances from musicians such as Mark Newman, the Long Beach All-Stars, and Katie Pearlman, as well as Annie Marks & Chris James, and Sweet Suzi & Sugafixx.

“It’s always a nice thing to have an event like this that brings the community together,” said Capt. Danny Gluck, the commanding officer of Nassau County’s Auxiliary Police Unit 109, which serves the Five Towns.