The following was originally published by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), which has provided assistance to those forced to escape disaster and war at home for nearly eight decades.
Passersby to a certain section of Herring Run Park on the evening of Tuesday, August 7th were greeted by a site unusual for Northeast Baltimore City. Hot dogs and hamburgers were being served next to Nepalese roti and Eritrean berbere. Likewise Bhutanese women in colorful clothes and Iraqis observing the Ramadan fast shared the park with longtime community residents, leaders of civic associations, and local policemen. The festival, which drew about 150 residents of the Frankford community, was part of the National Night Out (NON). The NON is an annual event begun in the early 1980s “to promote neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships in our fight for a safer nation.” More than 15,000 communities from around the country participate.
The festival in Herring Run Park was the result of a joint collaboration between the IRC and the Frankford Improvement Association (FIA). Over the past few years, the IRC has resettled hundreds of refugee families in the Frankford neighborhood. The IRC and FIA work closely to smooth the integration of new refugee residents into the community.
Pony rides provided by Cowboy Barry proved the most popular attraction at the event. Face painting and art activities courtesy of IRC and Baltimore City Community College’s Refugee Youth Project staff were nearly in as much demand. Samples of Nepalese, Eritrean, and Iraqi foods were made by local refugees. Liam Davis, representing City Council President Bernard “Jack” Young, remarked that the Herring Run Park event was the most vibrant and well attended of the several he had been to that day.