Elk Grove’s Multicultural Festival unites the diverse city

Weaving in and out of the colorful crowd Elk Grove has grown to have, Azteca dancers moved making the bells strapped to their ankles rattle with each step. They chanted along with the beating drums, sharing their one dance, one music style and one culture for their neighbors of Elk Grove.

One unique culture after another followed the dancers’ opening by sharing their own traditions through food, fashion, music and dance at the Multicultural Festival on Aug. 25.

Many types of people found similarities walking through the grass of the city’s regional park, wearing green wristbands symbolizing peace and love in Elk Grove.

The festival was the final celebration of Cultural Diversity Awareness Week where you could “Travel the world within Elk Grove.”

Understanding and supporting the diversity of our communities was a thought reached out to those joining in at the festival by Elk Grove Mayor Jim Cooper.

“As a city we’ve committed ourselves to be together, to honor our rainbow, embrace diversity and encourage our residents to respect our differences,” Cooper said.

Recent hate crimes, such as the shootings of two elderly Sikh men in Elk Grove, bewildered many, but more so got the attention of the city council. A year ago the Multicultural Committee was created based off their determination to make a city of many cultures an aware and accepting one of diversity.

“We all want the same things in life, to be loved, honored and respected,” said Elk Grove councilman Steven Detrick.

Gurtej Cheema, who 20 years ago immigrated from India, stood at the parks center stage as a member and physician to the community. He acknowledged the warm messages that came through when Sikh worshipers in Milwaukie were killed.

“I thank you for all the sympathy,” said Cheema. “As they say, every dark cloud has a silver lining, our coming together as Americans today will bring us together for the future for a long long time and coming together and understanding each other’s cultures will prevent all the senseless violence which has taken place across the country.”

The festival filled with more visits from the community as the afternoon went on.

“We are here to see different cultures,” said Marides Tapang, 38, while out with her children. “It is important to me to know people of different cultures and to understand their traditions.”

Between each dance performance, music singles from the television show “Glee” came from the speakers filling the background.

All ages showed up with their own culture and pledged “peace, love, friendship, unity, acceptance, tolerance and respect” for Elk Grove.

Marvin Dela Cruz, 38, and his family joined the celebration at the festival.

“It is important to me, Elk grove being so diverse and being one community is so great,” he said.

The warm sun hit upon embroidered cloth and feathered headdresses as the Azteca dancers continued the movement. People gathered around the dancers who formed a circle and grabbed kids and adults to teach their dance.