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Sumo wrestlers were sponsored by TD Bank
Sumo wrestlers were sponsored by TD Bank

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I entered the VIP line entering the World’s Fare. The guard asked me, “Are you okay?” and I said, “These are tears of joy!”

And it was truly a day of pure joy, pride and excitement. For the last two years, my son Josh had been planning a huge festival he conceived — “the World’s Fare,” a celebration of diversity through food, drink, art, dance and music, and now it was all there before my tearful eyes.

The enormous parking lot of Citifield had been set up Friday in the pouring rain with tents and signs color-coded by continent, an enormous, centrally located beer garden and another smaller one for a VIP pavilion set up with white spongy sofas for our sponsors and special ticket holders. So I figuratively “walked around the world,” tasting foods from 108 nations.

I thanked the God above for shining his light on me and my family by having clear, crisp, blue skies to share the dream of the Fare with our city. If ever there was a time to celebrate diversity, it is now — and there is much to celebrate.

Elizabeth joined forces with her brother and even drew in my daughter Samantha to help with some of the last-minute details. This was truly a family affair and from my perspective it was shared by thousands of families who came to see what we had created!

My family had traveled to Disneyworld in February and the kids collected stamps from all the countries in Epcot in their keepsake “passport.” So we created passports for our World’s Fare and our guests could travel the world, and asked each vendor to stamp them for guests stopping at their booth.

For me, another highlight of the event were the two bandstands, one sponsored by Dime Bank and the other by Halstead Real Estate. One featured talented, high-energy bands and the other, dance troops (thanks to my friend Joan MacNaughton of Leggz Studio in Rockville Centre) performing ethnic dances from around the world. What energy! What excitement! I loved how the crowd also danced to the music.

Then I think my jaw dropped and never closed as I watched the Sumo wrestlers we brought from Japan take to the mats set up in the center of the 190,000 square feet of Citi Field’s parking lot! The 600-pound wrestler, Yama, was as sweet as he was huge. We had to provide him with two seats on the airplane, but it was worth the expense!

Yama’s skill and size were nothing I had ever seen up close and when his partner offered to wrestle people in the audience, my nine-year-old grandson Jonah volunteered. I was delighted but frightened. But leave it to Jonah! He took the pose to begin the “match” and within short order was up in the air being twirled by the pro! What a sight! It was a memory of a lifetime.

The joy in the air, and the positive vibe given off by everyone from the visitors to the vendors — who included food, beer and wine purveyors as well as merchants selling wares from around the world — seemed infectious.

There was a poignant moment when I was at the Army booth with my kids and a woman came over to one of the officers and said, choking back tears, “I’m an Army brat and being at the World’s Fare, I feel so lonely and miss so dearly my dad. Would you give me an Army hug?” Indeed he did and she walked away with a smile on her face. What a cherished moment!

Then I walked over to the Brownsville Community Culinary Center booth. Its patron Claus Meyer, our world class star chef who just returned from cooking for Pope Francis, supports and nurtures the group which provides programs to train inner city kids on the skills to be chefs.

For every ticket purchased Saturday and Sunday, we donated a dollar and presented a check for $10,000 to the program. Its work changes lives and we were delighted to support their efforts.

There is an expression, “Build it and they will come!” They did and they did and they did, and we were thrilled that everyone asked us when we will be doing it again. Stay tuned!

Inspiration of the Week

If We Learned From Dogs — Author Unknown

We would…

Always run to greet our loved ones when they come home.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Experience the ecstasy of the wind in your face.
When it’s in your best interest, practice obedience.
Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory.
Take naps and stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play every day.
Thrive on attention and touching
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
Stop to lie on your back on the grass.
Drink lots of water and lay under a shady tree on hot days.
Show when you’re happy, let those who made you that way know it!
Forgive those who scold you and … show them you love them. Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough. Be loyal and never betray a friend.
Never pretend to be something you’re not.
Never give up — if something you want is buried, dig until you find it.
And MOST of all… When someone is having a bad day, Be silent, sit close by and let them know you love them.

Courtesy of Investors Bank Morning Juice newsletter

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