Saturday morning, May 16 started out cloudy and rainy, but that didn’t dampen the spirit of all the Port Washington community volunteers of HEARTS, local schools, students and parents. The 4th annual PortFest was packed and filled with life. Entering Schreiber High School’s field, the delicious smells from an array of food trucks, pizza stands and Ralphs Italian Ices immediately hit you.
What’s great about PortFest isn’t just the food, or live music, or even the wonderful arts and crafts projects, but the community’s “collaborative spirit”, Michele Posner, President of HEARTS, said enthusiastically. “We all come together for the same cause of raising money for our schools.” And the community did flock to the Schreiber field. Lisa Marschall, a member of the PortFest planning committee, agreed that the “entire community from every walk of life is here. The youngest kids to grandparents are here to celebrate the arts.”
The student art section was new to this year’s PortFest. In the center of the field was the PortFest Café and Student Art Tent. Here, community members were invited to come and watch the elementary school kids perform original poems on a stage, surrounded by walls of student artwork. Just next to the rows of spectator chairs was the Coffeed concession station for refreshments and snacks, also a first at PortFest. Marschall said, “we wanted to bring students’ arts and work out onto the same field. That way no one feels disjointed or excluded. Everyone is a part of the action.”
According to Posner, PortFest has raised more than $90,000 over the last three years to support arts programs in the Port Washington School District. This year, the fundraising records were broken. With record breaking attendance, over $60,000 was raised.
When asked about his favorite thing of PortFest, creator and founder Damon Gersh said he loved how the “community comes together in support of creative and individual expression and to support the arts in the public schools. And beyond all that it’s just fun. I’m having a great time and everyone else is too. Each year it just keeps growing. First year’s hard. Now that we’re on our 4th year, our job’s just easier and more fun. We help make a difference. This is one way to make a difference in the world. We’ve made friendships.”
The Port Washington community is a strong one as evidenced by the success of this event to support the schools and the importance of the arts in the lives of our kids. So we will always come, rain or shine, to celebrate what’s important.