After the pandemic shuttered the special event for two years, Caregivers Helping Hand founder Richdean Hills-Ackbar is excited to return with the annual Multicultural Family Day.

As the name implies, the free event celebrates the beauty of diversity. It is an opportunity for people of different cultures to learn about each other to help eliminate cultural stereotypes.

The outdoor event is perfect for families and pet parents. Along with multicultural food trucks, merchant vendors will be selling their wares at the event.

“This is an opportunity for the community to come together to learn about each other by sharing the richness of cultural diversities of the ritual of dance and food- the gifts that we have passed down, the stories we have shared and told our children and grandchildren,” said Richedean.

Multicultural Family Day will be held on May 1, from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm at Water Works Park, 1710 N. Highland Avenue, Tampa.  

Hosting the event are Cloe Cabrera, J Ricc Rollins II, Ward Cox, and Tina Marie Hollywood. 

Multicultural Family Day will feature dancers Bolivian Roots, Suncoast Asian Cultural Association (SACA), and Natacha Zamor.

Jodi Balasi, SACA president, said that the Golden Dragons, Dragon Boat Racing Team, will perform the Chinese Dragon and Chinese Lion dances, symbols of good luck, at the event.

“The Lion Dance is a very acrobatic type of performance. It’s a very beautiful and impressive performance. The Lion Dance costumes are very elaborate,” she said. “In the Dragon Dance, a long dragon held by nine people perform different dragon formations and dance the dragon around. It’s a really beautiful performance, as well. We are really looking forward to sharing the Asian culture with our audience.”

Following the performances, guests frequently ask to pose for pictures with the Chinese Dragon and Lion.

“We find that people enjoy watching our performances, and we get a great response. It makes us happy that they love our performance, especially the kids,” said Jodi. “We love being part of the community, so people know we are part of Tampa Bay.”

Another dance performance on Sunday comes from the Orijin Foundation, an organization that uses cultural dance to aid in the health and wellness of underserved communities.

Founder Natacha Zamor will showcase Chakacha, a traditional dance from coastal Kenya centered on the control of waistline winding while playing with the various drum rhythms that dictate the movements.

“One of the ultimate control demonstrations is to balance a pot of fire on your head, and that is one of the things that I will be doing.”

Natacha is the only outsider authorized to perform and teach the cultural dance outside of Kenya.

In addition to Chakacha, Natacha will be debuting Haitian Folklore dancing with drummers.

The Se Pam Collective will join her as a collaborative dance troupe (Lumbé Performing Arts): dancers Genia Guirand, Tabitha Foster, and Lisa House, lead drummer Nicholas Spivey, and drummers Alexander Spires and Matthew “Pure” Bradley.

“Our ancestors used dance as the medium to keep themselves healthy and as a mean of communication. Dance is the best way to get people moving and at the same time, teach about cultural differences and see how much what we think is a difference is actually a similarity.”

Richedean is excited to introduce the community to many new cultural experiences.

“We are here to celebrate and include everyone no matter what color, race, or country. Multicultural Family Day is about cultural inclusion and community diversity,” she said. “My goal is to abolish common stereotypes and the way we address and view others without getting to know them on a more personal level. Media stereotypes and racism affects our community that different cultures may have about one another.  The only way to break down the walls of misconception is by opening your heart and mind to new people that do not look or always act like you. This is an open invitation for you and your family to do your part and help bring a community together.”

The free Multicultural Family Day is on Sunday, May 1, at Water Works Park, 1710 N. Highlands Avenue, Tampa, from 1 pm-6 pm. For more information and opportunities for vendors and entertainers, visit flmulticulturalfamilyday.com. You may also contact Richedean Hills-Ackbar at caregiverstampa@gmail.com or text/call (813) 431-1814.

Learn more about SACA at https://www.sacadragonboat.com and learn more about Kenyan Chakacha dance at https://orijinfoundation.org.