It rained throughout Sunday's Celebration on Central, but a large crowd braved the elements and enjoyed food, children's activities, health screenings and other activities during the eighth annual event.
"The turnout's been fabulous," said Epi Sauseda, a member of the Lodi Mexican-American Lions Club. "It's a worthwhile event. People get to be screened for blood pressure, glaucoma and diabetes."
People walked the rain-slickened asphalt block between Pine and Oak streets, yet they seemed to have fun. A group called Students Organized for Success provided some wooden picture frames and paint from all colors of the rainbow so that children could dab their paint brushes and decorate their frames.
Eastside resident Anthony Lopez, who lives on South Central Avenue down the street from the celebration, played the bongo drums and taught children the fundamentals of playing bongos, African, Latin and American drums.
"What it does is bring people together in a community activity," said Lopez, who works for San Joaquin County's Friday Night Live organization.
Playing the drums is also a vehicle for children to meet new people while Friday Night Live staff encourages them to keep off drugs and alcohol, and to refrain from violence, Lopez said.
"The idea for the Celebration on Central is to serve some of the under-served people and to celebrate the diversity of the community," said Francisco Trujillo, a celebration organizer for five years.
Trujillo, who works in Lodi for the county's Community Partnership for Families, was happy to see people of different cultures in attendance, including Latinos, Pakistanis and Caucasians.
Janet Hamilton, administrative assistant to City Manager Blair King, estimated that 3,500 people came to the celebration.
It's hard to judge the crowd size, she said, because no admission is charged. So she estimated the count based on the number of hot dogs and other food sold.
New to the Celebration on Central, Hamilton said, was the local child-care planning council helping low-income residents seek affordable child care.
Other booths included Kaiser Permanente performing health screenings, the Lodi City Council and city Public Works Department, San Joaquin County Office of Education, Lodi Boys and Girls Club and the Republican Party conducting a voter registration drive.
Some of the key sponsors, Trujillo said, included Kaiser, the city, County Office of Education, United Way, San Joaquin County First Five Commission, Farmers and Merchants Bank and Joe Serna Charter School.
First published: Monday, May 22, 2006