Reminder Assistant Editor
WESTFIELD Since taking the reins at Westfield State College (WSC) last January, President Evan Dobelle has emphasized several initiatives, including the importance of a symbiotic relationship with the Westfield community as well as increasing cultural awareness.
In the spirit of his initiatives, WSC personnel have been planning the largest opening day celebration to date, according to Joanne Bigelow, director of event management in the president's office.
On Sept. 2, WSC will open up the campus to the Westfield community for the first Community Celebration honoring cultural diversity with specific emphasis on Latino cultures. The college will be featuring Carlos Reyes, a critically acclaimed jazz musician and producer from Paraguay.
"Westfield State College is pleased to share our Opening Day with the area community," Dobelle said. "This is always an exciting time for the college as we welcome both new and returning students to begin another academic year full of promise. We hope our friends and neighbors can also enjoy this day with us, since the college and the community depend so much on each other.
"We are also happy to be able to bring a major international musical talent, Carlos Reyes, to Westfield," Dobelle continued. "His performance, along with the Latino-themed celebration, reflects the college's respect for the cultural diversity that surrounds us."
Reyes has worked with such music industry greats as Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin. His first album, "The Beauty of it All," produced in the early 1990's, made Billboard Magazine's Top-Ten Contemporary Jazz Chart for 15 weeks.
Reyes will perform at WSC from 7-8:30 p.m.
Grupo Canela, a local group of musicians known for their performances at Santiago Family Restaurant on Franklin Street, will also be performing from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Bigelow noted that numerous other activities will be featured at the celebration, including a giant blow-up slide, Adrenaline Extreme Obstacle Course, gladiator jousting, face painting and a photo booth. She said traditional Latin cuisine will also be available such as Spanish rice and empanadas in addition to the kettle corn and fried dough carnival fair.
"We were looking to create a welcoming environment for people to bring their families and friends and celebrate diverse cultures," Bigelow said. "The president wanted to celebrate culture and diversity. He's very focused on bringing an international theme to Westfield and get this semester started off right."
Parking will be available in the Western Avenue Commuter Parking Lot and shuttles to the Community Celebration will be provided.