By Ashley D’Souza

Brookliners and visitors from all over the Boston area gathered at Olmsted Park last Sunday, July 30, to celebrate the first-ever Brookline Community Parkfest hosted by the Brookline Community Foundation in partnership with the Emerald Necklace Conservancy. After rain delayed the event by one day, attendees enjoyed a sunny day of performances, games, vendors, and engagement with community organizations. Performances included live and interactive dances with Triveni Dance, Boston Bhangra, and Boston Rhythm Riders, a puppet show by Through Me to You Puppetry, and a captivating flute performance by the Brookline Symphony Orchestra. Attendees also chatted with Massachusetts State Representative Tommy Vitolo of Brookline.

Students from Triveni Dance perform Indian classical dance for viewers. Photo by Ashley D’Souza.Parkfest was aimed at making parks more accessible, and the event was free, open to the public, and family-friendly to remove barriers to entry. Activities ran from 11 am to 3 pm.

“Brookline has all of this incredible green space,” said Meghan Guidry, director of communications at the Brookline Community Foundation.We want to create events that encourage folks from across the community to come out.” Approximately 500 people made their way out to enjoy the festivities in the park, so the organizers certainly achieved this goal. The Emerald Necklace Conservancy led an afternoon tree walk through the woodlands of Olmsted Park during the event, where participants learned about the history of the park and its unique wildlife while gaining tools to identify different species of trees they encounter in everyday life.

Organizers also aimed to connect and provide a platform for those doing impactful work in the community, particularly around racial and restorative justice and equity-based philanthropy. A diverse array of community organizations tabled at the event, including the Tactical Reintegration Project, a veteran-led group that helps former military members reintegrate. Parkfest attendees embraced the opportunity to learn about these organizations, and every table had someone asking questions or stopping by to chat throughout the event. “For us, it’s a success anytime someone approaches an organization in our community that they’ve never heard of, learns about an opportunity with an organization they’re unfamiliar with, or gets to shake hands with our town representative,” said Zaria

Karakashian-Jones, manager of programs and partnerships at the Brookline Community Foundation. “We knew people would show up, but we really hoped they’d be able to take something away from Parkfest as well. It looks like a lot of people will.”

Missed Parkfest or want to attend more events like it? Keep an eye out for these upcoming outdoor events:

August 19: Jamaica Plain Porchfest

September 10: Brookline Day

September 17: Carlton Street Footbridge Reopening

September 30: Brookline Porchfest

Spectators enjoy a flute performance by members of the Brookline Symphony Orchestra. Photo by Ashley D’Souza.The organizations present at Parkfest included: Brookline Community Foundation, Boston Bhangra, Boston Rhythm Riders, Brookline Arts Center, Brookline Community Development Corporation, Brookline Equity Coalition, Brookline Housing Authority, Brookline Interactive Group, Brookline Symphony Orchestra, Coolidge Corner Community Chorus, Emerald Necklace Conservancy, FriendshipWorks, Gateway Arts/Vinfen, Heart of a Giant Foundation, MAB Community Services, Mothers Out Front, Springwell, Steps to Success, Inc., The Tactical Reintegration Project, Through Me to You Puppetry, Triveni School of Dance, Voices Boston, and Women Thriving, Inc.

The Brookline Community Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to creating opportunity and promoting equity in Brookline. They partner with donors to fund local organizations supporting education, health, racial equity, and more and conduct research to identify community needs. They will soon launch a publicly available database to provide regular updates on the status of the Brookline community through metrics like demographics and access to supportive programs. To learn more about the Brookline Community Foundation, visit their website.