|Sat, Oct 25, 2014 02:18 AM
|Issue of October 22, 2014
August 13, 2014 | 09:07 AM
A membership drive by the Ku Klux Klan in Corydon in 1999 helped start Community Unity, a grass-roots group of citizens who developed a plan to unite the community in a spirit of peaceful conflict resolution. A year after the KKK's visit — which was deemed a failure — the first World on the Square took place on the square in downtown Corydon, with the goal of encouraging children and youth to respect and appreciate people with diverse backgrounds.
Fourteen years later, despite a steady drizzle that was followed by steamy temperatures after rains gave way to sunny skies, Community Unity's goal was still shining bright as hundreds of people visited several booths, watched a variety of presentations and ate ethnic food at Saturday's 15th annual World on the Square.
Karolyn Mangeot, who co-chaired the first WOTS, said she was amazed at the crowd that turned out despite lousy weather conditions.
Julia Meyer, 4, the daughter of Chris and Lindsey Meyer, uses an umbrella to avoid rain while watching bagpiper David Stewart perform on the Hurley D. Conrad Memorial Bandstand.
"I think that's a tribute to the parents and their willingness to bring their kids out," Mangeot said. "I spent the entire time handing out passports and prizes, and I'm always stunned at how seriously kids take learning and learning about other countries."
To start the day, bagpiper David Stewart squeezed out a few selections, then the Native American Color Guard presented colors. Other entertainment that followed included Raqia Middle Eastern dance, a demonstration by Rick Haines' Harrison County Tae Kwon Do School, Bomba y Plena dance and Salsa Rhythms.
Children were able to visit different booths "around the world" and learn facts that could be written on a passport. Once the passport was complete, children received a prize.
"I even had kids come up and say that the people in the Ethiopia booth weren't there, so they weren't able to write down what the native language there was," Mangeot said. "The most exciting thing about World on the Square is that kids are really enthusiastic about learning other cultures."
Another popular spot were wooden cutouts where children could get their pictures taken in various costumes and receive a free photograph. Due to printer trouble Saturday, photos are being kept at the Blaine H. Wiseman Visitor Center in downtown Corydon and can be picked up during normal operating hours. There also were games from around the world and art projects for children to complete.
Those who visited Saturday may have experienced the final World on the Square. The festival is not slated for 2015 due to a 10-month renovation on the square and organizers are having difficulty finding people willing to help organize the event.
"I think what will determine if there's one held in 2016 is if people come forward as planners. We have enough volunteers from Corydon Presbyterian who set up the tents and volunteers on the day of World on the Square, but it's the planning and the publicity that has largely been the same people for all 15 years," Mangeot said. "The square is going to be closed next year, and we just feel like that's the perfect space to hold it. I think it would be a wonderful project for a spirit club from one of the high schools or something. We'll just have to see. We just know that we can't do it again. We'll have to see where it goes from here.
"It's just amazing to look back and think that the kids who came to the first one are probably in college or working. I think we've made a difference. From the horrible storm in 2011, to it being hot or pouring rain, people keep coming back."