LODI — Dozens of Lodians from all walks of life will once again take to the streets this weekend to promote a vision of peace and unity in the community.
Breakthrough Project for Social Justice-Lodi will host its 4th Annual Peace Walk Saturday morning, and event aimed at bringing all of the city’s cultures, ethnicities and religions together for a day of solidarity.
“Peace is always important,” event co-chair Lusandra Vincent said. “Today, in our country and even our city, it seems we’re very divided. But once we all talk to each other, we’re going to realize that we all have so much in common.”
Much like the previous three years, the Peace Walk will begin at Veteran’s Plaza outside Lodi City Hall on Pine Street at 10 a.m.
Some 200 expected participants will then walk nearly 1.5 miles to Blakely Park on South Stockton Street for a 30-minute program that features a sing-along led by Jim Jordan and Monty Hammond, a dance performance by Central Valley Arts and Culture, as well as rock and blues performed by Lodi’s own Whiskey Slough Band.
Lodi Mayor Mark Chandler will provide closing remarks at about noon.
The Peace Walk’s theme this year is “I am Lodi” and what makes this year’s event different, Vincent said, is that guest speakers will not be city employees or council members.
“Instead of focusing on people in leadership positions, we just wanted to feature everyday Lodians and hear from them as to why they love this city,” she said. “With our theme, we wanted this year to be more about everyone in the Lodi community meeting with each other and celebrating our diversity.”
Masters of Ceremonies for the event will include Sandra Vargas from Central Valley Arts and Culture, former Tokay High School soccer goalkeeper Katie Price and the News-Sentinel’s own Oula Miqbel.
What also makes this year’s walk different is the time of year it is being held. In previous years, the event had been held in May and June.
Vincent said the 2019 Peace Walk has been a year and a half in planning, and early October turned out to be a better date for both the city and the Breakthrough Project.
“We realize this falls on a time when schools are on break, so that’s a downside,” she said. “But we wanted to get a day away from the heat. It looks like Oct. 5 might be a pleasant day for everyone to enjoy being outside with us.”
According to AccuWeather, a private forecasting firm, temperatures are expected to be 77 degrees Saturday morning and 85 degrees that afternoon, much cooler than the triple-digit heat experienced in years past.
“This walk is not focused on what divides us, like politics or religion,” Vincent said. “It’s about a common goal we all want to achieve. One of those is that we want the city to be a safe community where we can celebrate our diversity.”
Vincent said the Breakthrough Project could not have put the Peace Walk together without her event co-chairs Linda Hammons and Nancy Mellor.
“I think we’re a stronger community when we work together and have stronger lines of communication with each other,” Hammons said. “I’m looking forward to meeting segments of the community I don’t know well, and spending time with everyone who comes on the walk with us.”