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Grand Rapids kicks off first-ever Global Water Festival

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Posted at 11:04 PM, Sep 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-25 23:04:50-04

Not only is ArtPrize still going on, but the city held a first — celebrating a very diverse and rich culture.

Saturday morning, parts of downtown Grand Rapids celebrated cultures from all walks of life.

“But it also helps us appreciate the importance of our very natural resource,” said Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington. “The most important natural resource is the water — and being a city with the name of Grand Rapids, we’re right on the river. What a great day to be out here today.”

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Canal Park quickly transformed into the city’s first Global Water Festival.

Local Native Americans kicked things off with a blessing of the water. There was also an awakening of the dragons by Buddhists and a lion dance performance.

Indonesia, China and India were all represented. The event also included boat races.

“So, it’s so significant because it resonates with a lot of people, and it’s important for us to bring the history and the culture behind it,” said Washington.

Ace Marasigan created the globally infused celebration that recognized so many cultures. There were 17 vendors who sold food common in Asia, Africa and Romania.

“Because that’s the premise,” said Marasigan. “It’s, 'How do we all celebrate together?' Because the more we hang out together the more we’re able to build those relationships.”

Especially during today’s climate with so much hate and racial divide. If people learn to connect with others, they’re more likely to build relationships and be more welcoming.

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“This is a start for all of us. This is how we celebrate the water together. We have real commonalities,” said Marasigan.

The cultural event took place right in the middle of ArtPrize. It helped the community understand the importance of inclusion and diversity and bringing more awareness so others help our city grow and welcome those with different backgrounds.

“And as we talk about restoring the rapids in the future as a big water project, these are kind of the activities we’d like to see more of happening in our city,” said Washington.

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. sponsored the event with proceeds benefiting the Grand Rapids Asian-Pacific Foundation.

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