Harlem Week remains a summer festival that has something for everyone. Whether you’re a child, elder or prospective college student, the “Summer in the City” daylong event provides the public with a plethora of free activities for all ages.
As part of the monthlong celebration, the New York City Children’s Festival kicks off Saturday, Aug. 15 at noon with a “Back to School” theme. It takes place at P.S. 175 Henry H Garnet.
Over 30,000 children and families show up over the two-day event. Kids can expect song and dance performances by children and for children, face painting, karate demonstrations, boxing exhibitions and other sports clinics. The event features a parade, exhibits, games, arts and crafts and free health testing.
“The children’s festival was created because at the time we didn’t have anything for young children, ages 3 to 10, where they can really participate,” said Marko Nobles. “We want children to enjoy themselves.”
The Harlem Honeys and Bears are returning to Hansborough Recreation Center with senior citizen swimming demonstrations for the entire family at 11 a.m. The group is a synchronized swim team that welcomes men and women ages 50 and over.
The third part to the “Summer in the City” event is the highly anticipated “Higher Education Fair and Expo,” previously known as the “Historic Black College Fair and Expo.” It was created to inform prospective college students that one could receive just as good of an education for a lot less money with an immense cultural experience. The name of the fair was changed slightly due to participation from non-HBCUs.
“Over the years we’ve had participation from CUNY, SUNY and other schools that had high enrollment from students of color,” Nobles said. “It works on the same principle, so you don’t have to feel a certain way because you’re going to a CUNY or SUNY schools, they have great educations and experiences there.”
Nobles said the fair has grown to the point where nearly 60 schools participate, 80 percent are HBCUs and over 10,000 people attend. They provide information on scholarships, financial aid and more. An important component to the fair is the return of the alumni, who are people from the community. They act as recruiters to get students from the community to attend the universities.
Williams said it’s key for alumni to be able to talk to a prospective student as they form relationships with each other. “It’s a connecting linkage,” he said.
The fair is also for current students who may be going through challenging experiences to reach out to the alumni. “They don’t realize there is a long line of people who went through that challenge,” he said. “That’s hopeful for someone to say they experienced the same thing.”
The “Summer in the City” continues along 135th Street with help from WBLS-FM Djs, along with a hip-hop, ballet and African dance class with Robin Dunn, Alvin Ailey dance instructor. Meanwhile, Deborah Williams brings upcoming designers from across the country to the center of Harlem for the crowd-pleasing “The Fabulous Fashion Flava Show” to showcase their designs.
Harlem Week’s music theme is “Love Is the Answer.” Kenny Lattimore and Deborah Cox will be performing at HMF’s “Uptown Saturday Concert.” Lattimore encourages love through his recently released album “Anatomy of a Love Song.” Cox recently released her summer album titled “Work of Art.”
Harlem is an international community, with over 26 languages spoken by groups that exceed 2,000. The International Vendors Village does not disappoint by featuring global music, clothing, jewelry, food and corporate exhibits.
“When we put together the cultural experience, we are putting them together for Harlemites,” Williams said. “Now that there are visitors from the region, nation or internationally who seek to come out and take advantage, that’s value added.”
The “Our Lives Matter” event goes from the main stage located at St. Nicholas Avenue to Malcolm X Boulevard. The unnecessary and unjust killings of Black people have not gone unnoticed, and performances, celebrity appearances, speakers and exhibits support the movement. It will be open to the public from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.
When the sun sets, the Imagination Outdoor Film Festival is just beginning on the Great Lawn of St. Nicholas Park and will be showing “Still Bill,” a documentary about legendary soul songwriter and musician Bill Withers.
Imagenation is “our Harlem institution for independent films and films celebrating the Diaspora,” Nobles said.