8th annual literacy festival

BY ALLEN A. BUCHANAN, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – The Friends of Johnson Branch Library couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day last Saturday when they hosted the eighth annual James Weldon Johnson Literacy Festival, located behind the library at 1059 18th Ave.

“We have activities for adults, young children and teenagers,” said Vice President Kevin W. Johnson, adding that the festival grows in support each year.

The library grounds were booming with activity from 10 – 4 p.m. Complete with bouncy houses, free books for the children, face painting, karate exhibitions and puppeteers; the little ones were surely entertained. New this year for the older kids was a teenage section that included football drills.

Family LiteracyThe event is put on each year to promote literacy and to get children involved and exposed to the library. It also strives each year to introduce the neighborhood to the library and its resources.

The Friends of James Weldon Johnson Library was formed in 1989 to prevent the closing of the library due to cuts in city funds.

“We got a petition signed and we marched on City Hall and they changed their minds,” said President Ernie Coney. “Then we formed an organization to look over the library.”

The James Weldon Johnson branch serves the Midtown community very well. “Every day you come in here, it’s packed with many little beautiful, brown young people on these computers and checking out books,” said Coney.

Every year, Johnson lines up festivalgoers for the Walk for Reading march. Families could be seen joined together marching around the library and the Enoch Davis Center wearing special t-shirts and repeating everything he belted out over the megaphone.

“Readers are leaders! Open a book! Readers are leaders!”

After the march, the young future community leaders and activists were able to pick up snacks and drinks. Several adults left the event with gift cards donated by local businesses such as

Tamira Cheedy, who won a $50 gift card form Carrabba’s Italian Grill. Felecia Pizana took home the $25 gift card for the Olive Garden and Denise Mendez made off with the $50 massage gift card.

If you missed the fun this year, next year promises to be even bigger with more entertainment, vendors, food and of course, books!

To reach Allen Buchanan, email abuchanan@theweeklychallenger.com

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