Central Avenue between Pine and Oak streets was crowded with people Sunday afternoon as several local agencies reached out to the heavily Hispanic community to bring them together during the annual Celebration on Central.
More than 40 agencies provided information about services available in Lodi, police made an effort to show that they are friends of the Eastside, and dancers delighted the audience in the parking lot of Joe Serna Jr. Charter School.
"I thought it was a good event," said Christopher Barajas, deputy labor commissioner of the California Department of Industrial Relations. "It was well-attended. They asked a lot of good questions."
The labor commission had a booth to inform people about labor laws and overtime requirements, Barajas said. He emphasized that his role was not to be only on the employees' side.
"We help the employers as much as we help the employees to level the playing field," Barajas said.
Celebration on Central also included a mobile health care center and booths with information from the Child Abuse Prevention Council, resources for seniors, dental care and El Concilio for Spanish-speakers. Union Pacific Railroad also provided a booth informing the public about the need to stay off railroad tracks.
"My mission is to try to save a life," said Stockton resident Earl Roider, a retired engineer from Union Pacific, Western Pacific and Missouri Pacific railroads, who manned the information table.
Noting that people are hit and killed by trains in Lodi and throughout the nation, Roider handed out comic books, balloons and brochures about railroad safety. Children enjoyed pretending to be a conductor, blowing the railroad whistle and watching a video of a train headed down the tracks from the conductor's seat.
Other activities included precision Mexican dancing by performers from Los Danzantes del Puerto in Stockton, and Lodi police detectives letting children try on a 30- to 40-pound SWAT team outfit while holding a police rifle.
"It's building a relationship with the community," Detective Larry Fluty said.
The annual Celebration on Central returned to the Eastside after being scaled back the past two years due to budget cutbacks.
The event was sponsored by the city of Lodi, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., First Five, United Way, Pacific Coast Producers, San Joaquin County WorkNet, California Human Development and Community Partnership for Families.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.