HUDSON — The weather finally cooperated with Operation Unite and its annual Hudson Black Arts and Cultural Festival.
The day’s festivities started with a parade beginning on Seventh Street, which marched down Warren Street, stepping off at 2 p.m. The parade concluded at Riverside Park in Hudson around 3 o’clock and continued with a festival in the park for several more hours.
“This day is a family day,” said Executive Director Elena Mosley, of Operation Unite, Education and Cultural Arts Center.
The festival has a long history that can be traced back to the early ‘60s, Mosley said. African-American families who lived on Columbia Street in Hudson would block off the street and celebrate with friends, family, community and heritage.
Today, 20 years since the parade was established, both the parade and festival have attracted a large and diverse community to celebrate it.
“This is a great thing going on here,” said the Rev. Ed Cross of the Endless Love Temple in Greenport. “We have gotten together over so many years. I am proud to be a member.”
After the parade, the festival kicked off with speeches from Greg Mosley, president of Operation Unite New York, followed by a prayer by the Rev. Ed Cross. Hudson Mayor Rick Recto addressed the crowd, then Elena Mosley thanked sponsors, volunteers and the staff at Operation Unite for making the day’s festivities possible.
“Blacks Arts is a celebration of African-American tradition,” Greg Mosley said. “It is to celebrate where you come from.”
Mosley emphasized the importance of teaching young people to appreciate who they are, along with the history of their family and community. The overall goal of the organization is to create productive adults who can continue to invest in the community, according to Greg Mosley.
Celebrating talent in the community, the festival featured the Kuumba Dance and Drum ensemble, Samba Rhymystics Band, a community talent show, drum circle leader Olympia Ward, and a DJ for music, along with activities such as dancing, raffles, vendors, face painting and kids’ games. People who took part in the festival said they appreciated the experience.
“It’s a day where we can get all drummers together,” Peter Tenerowicz, a life-long resident of Hudson, said.
Tenerowicz works with the Kuumba Dance and Drum ensemble and the Black Arts Festival, and has been doing so for over 20 years.
”We are here celebrating ancestors, neighbors and family,” Second Ward Alderwoman Tiffany Garriga said. “Thank you to Operation Unite, New York.”