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Newton Celebrates World Cultures with Heritage Festival Series [Video]

Mayor Setti Warren and Director of the Mayor's Office for Cultural Affairs Linda Plaut kicked off a new series of Newton Heritage Festivals at a press conference Friday afternoon.

It all started last spring with a Russian cultural festival that was so successful, the local Indian community wanted to replicate the celebration.

Then came the idea for a Chinese cultural festival, a French festival and before too long, Newton had a full schedule of cultural celebrations lined up for the months of March and April. 

"We're here to announce the Newton Heritage Festivals, which bring together private sector companies, restaurants and entities that have been working and partnering with Newton for many years...so we can promote commerce, culture and the arts as well as promote the diversity Newton has to offer," Mayor Setti Warren said at a kick-off press conference Friday, Feb. 22.

For clips from Friday's press conference, check out the videos to the right.

Sponsored by Newton Community Pride, the Newton Heritage Festivals bring together art, music, fashion, dance, food and games from cultures including France, India, Latin America, China and Russia. 

During Friday's press conference at Cafe St. Petersburg in Newton Centre, Warren was joined by Director of the Mayor's Office for Cultural Affairs Linda Plaut, one of the key organizers for the heritage festivals.

"It's been an extraordinary experience," Plaut said, noting her teamwork with local residents and business owners from various cultures around the world. 

The Newton Heritage Festivals -- which are part of the city's initiative -- will start this Saturday, March 2 with a French Heritage Festival. The full schedule is as follows:

  • French Heritage Festival - Sat., March 2, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. 
  • Chinese Cultural Festival - Sat., March 9, 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Latin American Fiesta - Sat., March 23, 3 p.m. - 9 p.m.
  • Russian Festival - Fri.-Sun., April 19-21; Friday 5 p.m. - 9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. - 7 p.m., Sunday noon - 6 p.m.
  • Admission to the heritage festivals is free, but patrons are encouraged to bring a non-perishable item for the Newton food pantries.

    All festivals will be held at the Newton Cultural Center.

    In addition to support from Newton Community Pride, the Mayor's Office for Cultural Affairs and the Newton Parks and Recreation Department, business sponsors for the festivals include Cambridge Savings Bank, Village Bank, First Commons Bank and Whole Foods.

    In between the upcoming heritage festivals, Newton will host a staged reading of R.J. Palacio's book Wonder, on Saturday, March 16 at the Newton Cultural Center. The event includes a cast of 55 community readers and 14 local actors reenacting the novel, a story of a 10-year-old boy "born with an extraordinary face and his experiences trying to enter a mainstream school in the fifth grade."

    The "Newton Wonder" event is free and will run from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Check out the Newton Wonder website for a more detailed schedule

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