Celebrating Our Neighbors

More than 2,500 people enjoyed games, demonstrations, food and more at Tufts Community Day

child plays with Jumbo mascot

You don’t usually find a robot wandering around the academic quad, but at the 11th annual Tufts Community Day this weekend, there were indeed robots, thanks to the Tufts Robotics Club, not to mention a game of Kidditch (a kids’ version created and run by Tufts’ Quidditch team), performances by all three Tufts Indian dance groups and music from members of the Tufts Symphony Orchestra.

Some kids and grownups sat in a Tufts police cruiser and crawled through a simulated house on fire, while others had blood pressure screenings and learned about dental hygiene. Children also saw light diffracted through soap bubbles and observed polarization effects through optical filters and everyday plastic materials. And they could join in the ever-popular face painting and pumpkin and cookie decorating as well.

That only scratches the surface of Tufts’ demonstrations, performing groups and activities at the event on Sept. 29, co-sponsored by Medford and Somerville. More than 2,500 people attended.

Think there is no free lunch? Everybody ate, consuming more than 2,250 burgers, 1,800 hotdogs and 900 veggie burgers, along with 250 pounds of pasta salad, 162 pounds of black bean and corn salad, some 800 caramel apples and 4,000 assorted cookies. It took a staff of 30 Tufts Catering Services and Dining Services employees, who cooked burgers and dogs for three hours straight, says Eric Hamel, Tufts Catering unit manager, who organized and supervised food service for the event.

That’s just one example of the work it takes to put on Community Day. “None of this would be possible without our amazing student volunteers and participation from so many departments and faculty,” says Susan Fuller-DeAmato, assistant director of Community Relations at Tufts, who organizes the event each year. She thanked the more than 70 undergraduates who staffed tables and worked the event, as well as the 12 student performance ensembles and the more than 30 departments, student groups and campus organizations that shared their knowledge and talents.

Fuller-DeAmato reports there was also very positive feedback from the more than 40 Medford and Somerville community organizations that all had tables where guests could learn about their work. Some even included giveaways, like free books from the Somerville Public Library, the Tried and True Recipes book from the Greater Medford Visiting Nursing Association and plants from horticultural and garden clubs.

Senior Quinn Wongkew, president of the 60-member Tufts Robotics Club, gave up his Sunday afternoon to demonstrate 3-D printers and the firefighting robot that has won the club first place three years in a row against 120 teams from around the world at the Trinity Firefighting Competition. Why did he do it?

“This is the future, and I want to share my passion so that more young people will want to get involved in this field,” Wongkew says. “Outreach is very important to me.”

“It is a community event in the truest sense of the word,” says Barbara Rubel, director of Community Relations. “People could chat with Tufts President Monaco, who was there all day, and with our students and each other. And it always makes a difference when the sun is out!”

Gail Bambrick can be reached at gail.bambrick@tufts.edu.  

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