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Saturday, June 19, 1999

Picnic's an ethnic, racial mix

Warren group promotes unity with events

Enquirer Contributor

LEBANON - This is a picnic that will be more than hot dogs and potato salad, more than face painting and balloons.

The event is Warren County's fifth annual Community Picnic in celebration of Race Unity Day. It's an opportunity for residents to share food and fellowship across boundaries of race, neighborhood and background.

"It's a chance for the community to get together and have a nice time," said Elsie O'Donnell, a member of the Warren County Race Unity group. "A chance to know that we are one people and that God created all of us."

The Loose Ends Blues Band will provide live music. The Lebanon-based ensemble performs cajun and zydeco music on traditional instruments. An interpretive dance troupe composed of Baha'i youth will also perform. There will be games stressing team work and cooperation.

Lebanon Mayor James Mills will read a proclamation of racial unity, reflecting the observance of the national Race Unity Day June 17.

"This was a day set aside several decades ago for racial harmony," said Mary Lou Harmon, one of the event organizers. "Our event grew out of a series of dialogues which were focused on healing racism. We began informally in the summer of 1992, then held a series of structured dialogue sessions, which resulted in the formation of the Warren County Race Unity group."

Both Ms. Harmon and Mrs. O'Donnell were at the group's first meeting. "We had about six people," recalled Mrs. O'Donnell. "It has grown to about 23 people."

The picnic will be held todayat the shelter at Colonial Park South, located at New and East streets in Lebanon. Attendees are asked to bring their own table service, drinks and a picnic dish to share. Hot dogs will be provided. The event begins at noon and will end about 3 p.m.

For information, call 932-3763.

©Copyright 1999, The Cincinnati Enquirer

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