ELMSFORD, N.Y. — Christmas and Hanukkah have come and gone, but some Elmsford residents are getting ready to start their holiday season Wednesday night.
The village of Elmsford is holding its first-ever Kwanzaa celebration at 7 p.m., Wednesday, at the Community Senior Center, 10 N. Stone Ave., to celebrate the first day of the week-long holiday.
Wayne Bass, the event's coordinator and former North Elmsford Civic Association president, said he's been wanting to put together a formal community celebration for several years now and approached Mayor Robert Williams in November with his idea.
"My goal is to get everybody into the room and really just create a fellowship to talk to one another and enjoy the celebration," Bass said. "This is something that I had in my mind for years, and I basically just woke up the day after Thanksgiving and I felt the community could really use a celebration like Kwanzaa."
Kwanzaa honors the African heritage with food and gifts, and each day represents the holiday's seven core principles, called Nguzo Saba, Bass said. Wednesday marks the first principle called umoja, which means unity.
Umoja observance will also include poetry readings, recitals and African dancing and drumming by the Roots and Rhythm, Bass said. Longtime Elmsford residents William Tibbs and Clyde Mosely will contribute a reflection of their lives in Elmsford since their childhood, as per umoja tradition, Bass added.
Brother Robert Winstead will lead attendants in the formal Kwanzaa ceremony of lighting the kinara.
Bass, who has always lived in Elmsford, said he misses the camaraderie he once felt living in the village as a child. He hopes the first annual Kwanzaa event will be a way to reunite the community.
"With all the technology and kids staying indoors, we don't have as much a part in recreational programs as we used to," he said. "I thought it was something we should introduce to our children, so that when they get older they'll see the need to pass it on to their children as well."