Montgomery County announced Saturday that the annual Friendship Picnic, celebrating the county’s various cultures and races, was canceled due to the forecasted weather from Tropical Storm Ophelia.
The event was supposed to be held from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at Wheaton Regional Park, 2000 Shorefield Road in Wheaton.
“We want to take a few hours to acknowledge that we are a community of diverse beliefs, diverse backgrounds, diverse cultures, diverse races, but at the same time, we have a collective interest in family, safety, good community,” said Jim Stowe, director of the county’s Office of Human Rights.
Free lunch would have been served from food trucks from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. as long as supplies last, with no registration required. The event was set to feature kosher, halal and vegetarian options. Other picnic food staples like hot dogs and hamburgers, were set to be also available.
Activities for children and adults were going to include music, dancing, a moon bounce, face painting, and free rides on a carousel and the park’s miniature train. The music would have been provided by live bands from various cultures throughout the day.
In the past, the celebration has attracted between 2,500 and 3,500 people, officials said.
Attendees would have had a chance to learn about resources where they can obtain help, including food banks and advocacy programs.
The county was supposed to provide flu shots at a medical tent. Montgomery County Police would have been on hand to give people information on what officers do and ways they can help. In addition, the fire department was expected to provide free smoke detectors, according to Craig Simon, vice chair of the Montgomery County Committee Against Hate/Violence.
These opportunities are “ways that our county residents can see what our county can do for them,” said Simon, whose committee’s members are appointed by the county executive and confirmed by the County Council.
“And to see that people who work in the county or live in the county look just like everybody else, just like you and me,” Simon said. “We’re all in this together, and we want our county to be the most welcoming place there is.”
“In Montgomery County there’s no place for hate,” said Lisa Taylor, chair of the county’s Committee Against Hate/Violence.
A free satellite parking shuttle Ride-On service was scheduled to be available every 15-20 minutes. The shuttle goes to and from the Wheaton Ice Rink and athletic fields, located at 11717 Orebough Ave. The pickup location is in the parking lot next to the ice rink.