Coming together: Spokane’s Unity in the Community celebrates diverse cultures

Volunteers carry the rainbow flag in the annual Unity Parade, held before the Unity in the Community festival in Riverfront Park on Aug. 19, 2017. The 2018 festival will be held Saturday. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane’s Unity in the Community will host its annual Cultural Celebration and Unity Parade at Riverfront Park on Saturday.

Festivities begin at 9 a.m. with the Unity Parade. Then from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. attendees will have the chance to walk around UIC’s cultural village and experience languages and traditions from all over the world. Kids that manage to collect stamps from enough of the cultural booths will be awarded free school supplies.

Throughout the day there will also be more than 20 performances. Last year’s Police vs. Sheriff’s Department singoff proved very popular, this year organizers are following up with a Judges vs. Lawyers competition.

“This is our second year where we’re having a unity parade before the event starts … it’s a demonstration of our unity and commitment to being inclusive,” said April Anderson, UIC’s co-executive director.

This year’s theme is “Our Diversity is Our Strength,” and there will be representatives from about 25 countries and cultural backgrounds. Anderson hopes that everyone will be able to take a little trip through the village, visit as many booths as possible and maybe even learn a phrase or two in another language.

UIC’s Cultural Celebration is the largest of its kind in the region.

“There are usually around 5,000 people … we’ve given about 1,400 bags of school supplies and about 150 bicycle helmets. And this year because of specific grants we were able to add toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss to the school bags,” Anderson said. There will also be a senior center with information about benefits programs and other available local resources.