April 30--AMERICUS -- "Arts in Rees Park" is almost always accompanied by stellar spring weather and this year's event was no exception. On Saturday temperatures were warm and pleasant breeze circulated through the park.
The annual event is a celebration of the arts, but it also sets the stage each year for rejuvenation in the community and marks the birthday of Americus, which turns 182 this year. In addition, it is a reminder of how the community pulled together in 2007, after Americus was pounded by an EF-3 tornado. The Rees Park area was one of the most devastated parts of the city, but that year, as rebuilding and repairs began, "Arts in Rees Park," went off without a hitch.
In 2014, the event did not disappoint. Hundreds gathered in the public park, strolling along its paths and enjoying the music coming from the gazebo. The GSW Choir and Jazz Band performed upbeat tunes as did Regina Thomas and Heather Grinolds from late morning and into the afternoon.
Always a popular attraction, the Sumter Humane Society had puppies for adoption. Siblings Carlos and Jennifer Perez-Gomez wanted to take one home, but they said they needed to OK it with their parents first. Next, they were on to the face painting tent where Carlos would request a tiger.
Americus-Sumter County High School students Diamyn West and Alisa Parks were just "walking around and chilling out." Parks said she had been to the (Georgia Southwestern State University) GSW Department of Visual Arts tent and created a piece of clay pottery.
"I come every year for the music, food and because it's so pretty outside," West said.
Daniel Vanoteghas and Pattie Belsky, two GSW students, were taking it easy waiting to meet some friends at the park later. They had just sat down for lunch in the shade and were having a nice time.
A lot of people crowded under a tent advertised as "Community Canvas." A new event this year, this was a painting collaboration open to everyone. Many attendees contributed to the "Community Canvas," which will be exhibited in the window of the Americus Center for the Arts, located at 326 W. Forsyth St., downtown.
Visions for Sumter was enrolling children in their free books program. Koinonia Farms sold food and craft items as did many other vendors, including Pat's Place, Cafe Campesino and Sweet Georgia Baking Co.The Americus Kiwanis Club had a booth in which kids could decorate a visor with their own designs.
Another popular activity was courtesy of students from the GSW Theater Department. Makaliah Saegar, Jasmine Carino and Robbie Carino had decorated paper masks at the theater department's tent. The students roamed the park in performance mode, dressed in masks and period attire.
The preeminent event, as always, attracted a large crowd to the heart of historic Americus.
Arts in Rees Park is funded through member donations to the Americus-Sumter Arts Council, and is made possible by volunteer efforts. Visit sumter-arts.org for more information about the Arts Council.
(c)2014 The Americus Times-Recorder (Americus, Ga.)
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