EVERETT – At first glance, at a distance, it looked like a typical neighborhood festival in the park.
Kids ran, rode their bikes, grabbed free candy, had their faces painted and lined up to go through an 18-wheeler-size inflatable obstacle course.
Adults, when they weren’t trying to rein in their kids, were lining up and eating free hot dogs, sitting at picnic tables, moving to the music of a live band or just walking around taking it in.
At closer look, the crowd was more diverse than one would usually see in Snohomish County – the combined minorities were in the majority, with black, white, Asian and Arab kids playing together.
“If you want to see a vision of heaven, look now,” said pastor Aaron Gaines of Everett’s Tabernacle North Church, looking out over the crowd at Wiggums Hollow Park in northeast Everett on Sunday.
“Nationalities, countries, races coming together as one, that’s the true heaven,” Gaines said.
The crowd was the largest in the four-year history of the Wiggums Hollow Family Fun Fest, organizers said. At least 1,000 people attended, said Lisa Rockafellow, one of the organizers.
“We know by the amount of hot dogs we started with,” she said – about 1,500 at 11:30, down to about 400 by 3 p.m.
The festival was started in 2002 by three Everett churches – Riverside Foursquare, Delta Baptist and Bethel Baptist – to bring the churches together and to reach out to residents of the low-income neighborhoods near the park, Rockafellow said.
The aim is “Not just to fill up or get people in the pews,” but to offer help, Rockafellow said. Ten social service agencies had tables set up at the event to provide information.
Kevin Nortz / The Herald
Kevin Nortz / The Herald
Since the first event, five more churches – Bailey AME, Life Changes Ministry, Jubilee, Tabernacle North and Upper Room Fellowship – have joined to help organize the event. Businesses, groups and individuals helped this year with donations, Rockafellow said, including $892 in cash and the inflatable obstacle course from the Boys and Girls Club.
Church musicians provided free entertainment with Christian songs. The event also included carnival games, face painting, a multidenominational service and a prayer tent.
While many of those at the event were church members, many others stopped in from the surroun
ding area. About 800 fliers were distributed in the neighborhood, said John Blake, Riverside Foursquare pastor.
Marie Price was one of those who found a flyer on her door, and brought her four kids to the event. What did she like the best?
“The singin’,” she said.
Some in the neighborhood are recent immigrants who don’t speak much English, and the event gives them a chance to meet people, volunteers said.
“It’s great for low-income people to have a place to go and meet some people and get a free lunch,” Riverside church member Ray Sanders said.
Reporter Bill Sheets: 425-3390-3439 or email@example.com.