It takes a community to build Community Day

09/24/2017 - Medford/Somerville, Mass. - The School of HONK! performs at Community Day on the Academic Quad on Sept. 24. (Evan Sayles / The Tufts Daily)

Countless tables lined the quad, representing various community groups, charities and organizations from Tufts and its surrounding cities. On the outskirts of the maze of tables, various activities for children like face painting, pumpkin painting, cookie decorating and even a mini game of quidditch, facilitated by members of the Tufts Quidditch team engaged young children and not-so-young Jumbos alike.

Tufts Dining catered massive station for an extensive barbecue lunch. Multiple tables were set up just for coolers of cold beverages, which the attendees appreciated in the 85-degree heat.

“The only thing they were missing was a cooling station,” sophomore Jonathan Smith, an attendee of Community Day, said.

Despite the heat, Tufts students, faculty and the residents of the Somerville-Medford area came together on the Academic Quad last Sunday for the 15th annual Tufts Community Day, an event celebrating the relationship between Tufts and the local community.

Tables for people to sit, eat, talk and enjoy the performances were spread out on the quad in front of the stage where performances from Tufts groups including BEATs, The Amalgamates and The Ladies of Essence took place.

Sophomore Elizabeth McGowan performed with the Tufts Tap Ensemble at Community Day.

“I always enjoy performing because the kids always think it’s really fun, and it’s great seeing them have a good time,” she said.

Her sentiment was proven by the many children who planted themselves in front of the stage or the comedy show that was going on outside of Barnum Hall.

According to the three members of the Tufts Community Relations staff, Barbara Rubel, Rocco DiRico and Alanna Fusco, Community Day originated from a conversation between former University President Lawrence Bacow and Somerville Alderman Jack Connolly in which Connolly made the suggestion for an event to connect the communities.

“The small staff was able to reach out to university departments and community organizations to produce a modest version of today’s Community Day,” the Community Relations staff told the Daily in an email.

Only about 200 people came to the first Community Day, according to the Community Relations staff, versus the approximately 3,500 people that came to this year’s event.

This year’s Community Day in particular was a memorable one as the 15th anniversary of the event.

“This year, we also had a few new additions — the ‘Jumbo Photo Booth’ for which student volunteers took photos for guests, as well as a videographer to produce a video of Community Day to commemorate its 15th anniversary,” they wrote.

According to the Community Relations staff, planning for Community Day is a year-long process that starts from the moment the last Community Day ends.

“The first contact to participating groups functions as more of a ‘Save the Date’ to put Community Day on the radar before summer begins,” they wrote. “We made sure to reach out to all our past participants, while also actively seeking out new groups to invite as our goal is to continue expanding the event each year.”

Planning the event involves much collaboration between Community Relations and many departments within Tufts. The Tufts University Police Department, the Department of Public and Environmental Safety, the Facilities Services Department, Tufts Dining and Tufts Technology Services are all important departments involved in making this massive event run smoothly, according to the Community Relations staff.

There is also a large team effort in terms of publicity for Community Day.

“We also collaborate with the City departments, elected officials and organizations of our host communities of Medford and Somerville in publicizing the event to ensure that the word is spread far and wide to our neighbors, elected officials and community collaborators,” the Community Relations staff wrote.

Student volunteers played a key role in Community Day, especially on the day of the event. They could be seen running from table to table attending to the various needs of participants, running activities for children and giving attendees information at the resources tent.

“We were also greatly assisted in the recruitment of student volunteers by Tufts departments and student organizations, who posted the event details in their newsletters and on their social media platforms,” the Community Relations staff wrote.

Over 80 volunteers helped out with Community Day, according to the Community Relations staff. Besides running activities and errands for the event, students are also recruited for specific day-of jobs.

“We have students fill the roles of Emcee, Stage Managers, Info Tent leader, Jumbo mascots and assistants, and Portrait and Caricature Artists,” they wrote.

Senior Nicole Morris played a vital role in the Community Day team, serving as this year’s student intern.

“She did a fantastic job assisting in the outreach, follow up and confirmation of [participating] groups,” Community Relations wrote. 

The three members of the Community Relations staff were all very pleased with the event and proud of everyone who contributed to make it a great day.

“This was my first year managing the event, so I would say that my favorite part was seeing the event finally come together after the planning, preparation and coordination with key players and collaborators, both within Tufts and in our communities,” Fusco, the event coordinator, wrote.

DiRico pointed out that students were instrumental in the effort.

“My favorite part of Community Day was the collaboration between our students and the community groups. This year, we had a small army of student volunteers and they were key to the success of Community Day,” he wrote.

Rubel said she had a hard time picking her favorite part of the event.

“I really enjoy talking to people, old friends who are returning to the event and neighbors who are coming for the first time,” she wrote.