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Community superheroes assemble for seventh annual Lehigh Valley Children’s Festival

The seventh annual Lehigh Valley Children’s Festival, held Sunday at Allentown’s Jordan Park, featured music, games, face painting, food, a superhero costume contest and more.On a sun-splashed, low-humidity afternoon, among plenty of children and adults in capes and masks, the real heroes were the events organizers and volunteers such as Allentown police Capt. Glenn Granitz, the inaugural participant of the festival’s first-ever dunk tank.“Besides being really cold, it’s a good way for kids to see police,” said Granitz, shortly after his 30-minute stint. “It really lets them know that cops are part of the community and lets them know that we’re real people.”The community was out in force: Many of the estimated 1,000 people who attended the five-hour event were from Allentown, and of Hispanic descent. The Puertorrican Culture Preservation Inc., the nonprofit group that hosts the Festival, includes among its goals providing a safe, family-friendly event for Lehigh Valley residents. Ava Granitz is instructed by organizer Robert Velez where to throw the ball to try and dunk her uncle, Allentown police Capt. Glenn Granitz, Sunday during the Lehigh Valley Children’s Festival. (Rich Hundley III / Special to The Morning Call/)“Everything is all outdoor activities, like tug of war, hula hoop,” said organizer Robert Velez of Allentown, who was wearing a blue Superman T-shirt. “It just makes the kids get involved, and we want parents to get involved, too.”Janine Vicalvi of Allentown arrived wearing a white cape with the letter “G” for her 7-year-old son, Gavin, who has autism spectrum disorder.“We just grabbed our capes and came,” she said. They attended in part to obtain information on autism from a free information booth, but organizers said the sponsors canceled due to a last-minute accident. So Gavin headed to the Music Therapy Associates booth, where he joined other children who played nesting drums called timbau and tubano.Kathy Purcell, who directs the Whitehall Township therapy provider, said children gain a “wonderful feeling of accomplishment” with music and art therapy, which they could do at a neighboring booth. Vicalvi said she also expected to hang out with other children and parents, many from the Allentown Parent Network, which the school district launched last fall.Eduardo Torres of Allentown, who came with his cousin Kelvin Santos, enjoyed the pinchos — barbecue meat on skewers — while walking with their children. Torres’ daughter, 5-year-old Evalise, wore a Wonder Woman T-shirt and sported face-paint to match, while Santos’ 4-year-old son, also named Kelvin, was painted red and black on his face to match his Batman costume.“I love it, the place, the environment,” Torres said.People could enjoy other Puerto Rican food, including chicken with rice, and bacalaitos, or cod fish fritters.Velez said the cultural group prepared much of the food, which it sold as a fundraiser.The event also featured a double-cabin “Jack Truck” made by Mack Trucks, and city police and fire departments came with motorcycles and a firetruck. Children could look in all the equipment.Morning Call reporter Anthony Salamone can be reached at 610-820-6694 or YOUR CALENDARThe annual Puerto Rican Day Parade and Festival will be held July 28 in Allentown. For information, call 484-661-2154 or go to the Puertorrican Culture Preservation’s website,
Source: Morningcall

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