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Peace Day set for Sunday

By Staff | Sep 19, 2019

Once again, the Southwest Florida area will celebrate a special day of peace.

The 12th annual SWFL Peace Day will be held this Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers. This year’s theme is “Unity in CommUnity Bridging the Gaps.”

Formerly Peace Day in the Park, the free event is held once a year to honor the International Day of Peace (Sept. 21), and will feature live music and entertainment, family-friendly activities and local artists.

Co-organizer of the event, Zachari VanDyne, explains this year’s theme, “SWFL for Peace means building upon what unites us, rather than focusing on what divides us; forging understanding and compassion and creating the ‘peace-full’ world we all want in our deepest being. We mean entering into a mindset of the actual existence of peace in our homes, schools and communities, and further creating peace with our environment and our entire planet. How are bridges built? With a goal, a plan, and lots of support.”

Attendees will be able to enjoy positive-themed live music, entertainers and dance groups throughout the day on three stages. Vendors will be set up with booths bursting with imagination, local non-profit organizations will be on hand to provide volunteer opportunity on how to get involved and food vendors will offer a myriad of options for all pallets.

Some featured entertainment includes “Yoga for Peace,” “Peace Talk” circles, meditation, mobile mural, 3D sidewalk chalk art exhibition and raffles with original art, vendor products, services and more.

This year, the Alliance for the Arts art gallery will be open for viewing, which also provides a reprieve from what will likely be a warm day.

VanDyne said this year’s event is all about connecting the community and creating a positive environment for all.

“We are scaling back a bit on the number of vendors in order to continue to experience that grassroots quality of this special day,” VanDyne said. “We will also have two emcees, John Nichols and Jenni B, providing hourly updates and entertainment. We will have a lot more live art, sidewalk chalk art with interactive participation, as well as peace talks round circle discussion — all in an effort to bridge the gap between diverse community members, finding Unity in CommUnity.”

This is an event for all walks of life, ages and backgrounds, VanDyne said, and that each year, he is thrilled to see how much the area gives back in the form of donations.

“Peace Day is a living entity that has an energy and an agenda, so to speak, all of her own,” VanDyne said. “We have seen since its inception as Peace Day in the Park, that it has continued to expand and grow into SWFL Peace Day Celebrations. The amount of food, blood and pet supply donations have grown through the years, helping people, pets and families in need, as well as witnessing this community expand in these very fundamental ideas of peace — whether pride, compassion, or involvement. In a powerful ripple effect, Peace Day continues in various ways to empower the community each year, helping further cultivate a sensation of peace in hearts, homes and communities.”

Don’t forget to do your part when attending, VanDyne said, as the event is going plastic-free this year.

“We are actively encouraging people to rideshare, bring a refillable cup, use a recyclable or personal shopping bag and help reduce our carbon footprint as a community,” he said.

The event is pet friendly and will feature a bloodmobile and food drive for those who wish to make donations.

“We are all looking for ways to feel involved and get involved in positive ways,” VanDyne said. “Peace Day is not an anti-anything celebration, it’s a gathering of everything that is right, and of who we are and what we continue to want to do about that … community creates Unity. In the words of St. Francis, it’s in the giving that we receive. Peace Day is an opportunity to give peace and claim a piece of peace — and have a lot of fun doing so.”

Those interested in being a vendor for the event should call 239-560-5224 or email SWFL4PEACE@email.com as soon as possible.

Alliance for the Arts is at 10091 McGregor Blvd. in Fort Myers.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj