Diaspora

Norwich celebrates ethnic diversity, seeks to add to schedule of events – theday.com

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Published April 02. 2022 3:42PM | Updated April 02. 2022 8:42PM

Norwich — Members of the city’s Greek community saw images of a Dominican Republic flagraising ceremony on Feb. 26 outside Norwich City Hall and wanted their culture to be celebrated likewise.
On March 25, the Greek flag was raised on the temporary flagpole at the David Ruggles Freedom Courtyard with the playing of the Greek national anthem at Norwich City Hall, as local Greeks celebrated Greek Independence Day.
That’s exactly the synergy, infectious excitement and inclusion Suki Lagrito wants to promote in Norwich. She started as coordinator of grant-funded Global City Norwich in 2018 with a mission to create a buzz about the city’s cultural diversity through ceremonies and international festivals.
Ultimately, in collaboration with the Norwich Community Development Corp., Global City Norwich wanted to welcome a collection of immigrant-owned local businesses.
Lagrito said when George Grossomanides called the mayor’s office to request the Greek Independence Day event, she gladly added the group to a growing calendar of events that includes flagraisings, cultural festivals and celebrations of meaningful days to the many cultures represented in the city.
“What we’re finding is that all of these cultures and nationalities have been in existence in Norwich for hundreds of years,” Lagrito said. “But they haven’t been activated on a widespread, citywide level. We built up all this momentum starting in 2018, and what we’re doing here at NCDC and Global City Norwich is working. We are not the ones to reach out to any of the community folks. They are the ones calling and wanting to join the party.”
The calendar of events is constantly growing, with flagraisings planned for the Sikh, Peruvian, African American, Pakistani and Haitian communities. So far, eight festivals — now to be held in a large parking lot behind 241 Main St. to avoid closing streets and reduce the need for city services, Lagrito said — are scheduled.
Lagrito has added in one special flagraising day that is not yet arranged for Aug. 24 at the David Ruggles Freedom Courtyard. That is Ukrainian Independence Day. She wants to put a call out to local Ukrainians to contact her at suki@globalcitynorwich.org to organize the event.
Grossomanides, a retired Foxwoods employee and president of the Greek civic organization AHEPA, applauded the Global City Norwich cultural celebrations and the growing diversity of the city.
“This is a multi-ethnic city,” he said. “It’s always been that way. We’re just happy other groups are coming. All these new groups that are coming now, hopefully are going to have the same experience we’ve had. It’s about searching for a new life. When my grandparents came, they couldn’t read or write. I’m talking to you as a college graduate, and they came with nothing, their clothes on their backs.”
c.bessette@theday.com

Festivals
Location: 241 Main St. rear parking lot
• Haitian Fest, May 21 — 2 to 6 p.m.
• Cape Verdean Fest, May 28 — 1 to 7 p.m.
• Polish Fest, May 29 — 2 to 6 p.m.
• Puerto Rican Fest, June 11 — 2 to 8 p.m.
• Juneteenth, June 18 — 2 to 6 p.m.
• Peruvian Fest, July 24 — 2 to 6 p.m.
• Dominican Fest, Aug. 7 — 2 to 6 p.m.
• One World Day, Sept 4 — Time TBD
First Fridays
Locations: Main Street, 241 Main St. rear parking lot, Franklin Street/Bath Street parking lots
Days: April 1, May 6, June 3, July 1, Aug. 5, Sept. 2, Oct. 7
Time: Always 6 to 9 p.m.
Flagraising Ceremonies
Location: City Hall, David Ruggles Courtyard
• Sikh Independence, April 29 — 11 a.m.
• Haitian Flag Day, May 18 — 10 to 11 a.m.
• Juneteenth, June 17 — 10 a.m.
• Peruvian Independence Day, July 28 — Time TBD
• Ukrainian Independence Day, Aug. 24 — Time TBD
• Pakistan Independence Day, Aug. 14 — Time TBD
Other events
• Rose Arts After Dark, June 25 — 7 to 10 p.m., Main Street, 241 Main St. rear parking lot and Franklin Street/Bath Street parking lots. 
• Make Music Day June 21 — 4 to 8 p.m., Public Art for Racial Justice Education Mural, City Hall Courtyard and 80 Broadway.
Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, reflection and prayer for Muslims, started this weekend.
The city took the historic mansion for back taxes in 2020 and is advertising for renovation proposals through May 13.
A small crowd gathers during a ceremony in Norwich Sunday to mark the 60th anniversary of the Van Tassel warehouse fire.
Ledge Light Health District has announced it will hold a COVID-19 vaccine clinic from 2 to 5 p.m. on Thursday at the Groton City Municipal Building at 295 Meridian Street.

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