On Friday, August 11th, 2023, a remarkable event unfolded as more than 300 children affiliated with the Police Athletic League (PAL) congregated at the PAL Harlem Center.
These young participants hailed from various centers including Harlem, Polo Grounds, Duncan, and other locations across the city. The occasion was none other than Cultural Day, a vibrant celebration of diversity and global heritage. The theme for PAL’s Cultural Day in 2023 was “Festivals from Around the World.”
Among the highlights of this spirited day were the engaging activities centered around different cultural festivals. Enthusiastic 3rd and 4th-grade students delved into the festivities, ranging from the Lantern Festival in China to the dazzling Carnaval in Brazil. A lively procession of banners and chants kicked off the day, with youngsters proudly parading homemade banners representing their respective PAL centers. The interactive booth displays showcased the acquired knowledge of the countries they had studied, fostering cross-cultural understanding. The celebrations were further amplified by performances from young talents adorned in costumes.
PAL’s 2023 curriculum theme, “Festivals from Around the World,” empowered participants to delve into the rich cultural tapestry of their chosen countries through the lens of their most prominent festivals. Each PAL center invested time in understanding the cultural and religious significance of the festivals, along with immersing themselves in the language, cuisine, music, attire, and traditions associated with the represented countries. The impressive list of countries and territories showcased during PAL’s Cultural Day included Spain, Bahamas, Ghana, Barbados, the United States, Trinidad & Tobago, China, Croatia, Belize, Mexico, Uruguay, Virgin Islands, Grenada, and Brazil.
Meredith Gray, the Director of Education & Training at the Police Athletic League, expressed her delight, stating, “Every camper was so excited to share what they had learned and discovered about the culture and roots of the festival they selected. It was wonderful to see all of the incredible enthusiasm and creativity on display! It was an excellent example of what happens when you center young people’s talents and interests.”
Recognition was bestowed upon outstanding efforts during PAL’s Cultural Day. The PAL Edward Byrne Center in Queens clinched the award for Best Banner & Chant, while PAL PS 13 on Staten Island secured the accolade for Best Interactive Booth. The title for Best Performance went to PAL’s Edward Byrne Center in Queens. The overall Cultural Day Awards were garnered by PAL’s Edward Byrne Center in Queens (1st Place), PAL’s Harlem Center (2nd Place), and PAL’s Wynn Center in Brooklyn (3rd Place).
With a legacy dating back to 1914, the Police Athletic League of New York City remains steadfast in its mission as a nonprofit organization, annually providing 15,000 children and teenagers with a platform for recreational, educational, cultural, and social activities.
For those seeking more information, please visit www.palnyc.org.
Photo Credit: 1-2) Love Haight Photography