United Way celebrates half century in Winnipeg

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A wet start didn’t stop hundreds of Winnipeggers from coming together Wednesday night, taking in local music, poetry and dance.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/06/2015 (2712 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A wet start didn’t stop hundreds of Winnipeggers from coming together Wednesday night, taking in local music, poetry and dance.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Winnipeg’s local United Way branch, and the non-profit group decided to commemorate its half-century birthday by hosting a massive, free concert, One Night for Winnipeg, at The Forks.

Heavy rain delayed the event, with a severe thunderstorm delaying the start time. Many Winnipeggers braved the elements to come out anyway, and when the near-torrential downpour gave way to bright, sunny skies, they were joined by hundreds of others.

Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press Members of Métis Jiggers perform on the Festival Stage at The Forks during the United Way 50th Anniversary concert, One Night For Winnipeg.

Dot Ball brought her two-year-old daughter, Anna, to see the shows, biking over as soon as the rain stopped. Ball said she values free community events like United Way’s because they “bring people together.”

“A lot of people don’t know all the charities that United Way supports, so then to associate with fun music that’s local brings a lot more awareness to the charities, and also to the bands,” Ball said.

The concert comes as the finale of a four-part series called Winnipeg Wednesdays that took place this June. Other events included a Conscious Kindness event urging Winnipeggers to “spread positivity” and commit random acts of kindness for each other; Red Tables, aiming to start a conversation around dinner tables about the best part of living in Winnipeg; and Make It Happen!, which prompted Winnipeggers to donate to any of several community projects.

In what began as an effort to set a new world record, Mitch Dorge, the drummer for the Crash Test Dummies, led the crowd in a “human drumming session,” guiding the crowd in a rhythmic percussion piece, played solely using their own bodies, patting their laps and clapping their hands in time.

While there’s no word on whether they set a record, Dorge said group drumming is the perfect fit for a United Way celebration.

“If and when everybody chooses to participate, the energy is incredible,” he said. “Imagine if we took all that energy and applied it towards cleaning up the city, ending poverty.

“When people see what they can do in numbers, we’ve got a catalyst to change the world,” he added.

The crowds were also treated to shows from several all-Winnipeg acts, including Sweet Alibi, The JD Edwards Band, The Noble Thiefs and JP HOE, as well as local spoken-word poets who wrote odes to Winnipeg, aboriginal hoop dancers and Inuit throat singers, and aboriginal, African and Japanese drummers.

Premier Greg Selinger addressed the crowd via a video recorded that evening before being pulled away from the event after it was delayed.

Ayn Wilcox, chairwoman of the United Way committee that planned the event, said community energy and accessibility was one of the “guiding principles” for the concert and the Winnipeg Wednesdays initiative.

“The series is all about celebrating Winnipeg as part of United Way’s 50th anniversary, and really just recognizing the vision people had 50 years ago in creating United Way, and all the work that’s been done in the community since then,” she said, and “taking a moment to pause and celebrate, and thinking about how we move forward.”

aidan.geary@freepress.mb.ca

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