Every October, Main Street in Harlem transforms into a crowd of people skipping from booth to booth amid the smell of funnel cake and the sounds of young girls clogging.
Mayor Scott Dean says the Oliver Hardy Festival is all about community, that it breaks racial, ethnic and economic lines, and teaches local youth community values.
For years, Harlem High School students have been learning the lesson of community values and adding their presence to the festival.
On Saturday, the school will participate in the festivities in several ways.
The JROTC will lead the parade and the band will march, as it does each year. Miss Harlem High will join the parade, along with other organizations on floats or in the beds of trucks.
The Drama Club is sending stilt-walkers and clowns to help liven the street and will perform several one-act skits on the stage, which also showcases dancers and cloggers of all ages.
Many school clubs set up booths as fund-raisers. This year, the Drama Club will raffle a stained glass panel of Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel. The cheerleading squad will set up a spirit booth where they will paint faces and sell temporary tattoos to raise money for new competition uniforms.
Harlem High's Young Women of Excellence will provide baby-sitting services at the Harlem Women's Club for families working the festival.
The Interact Club will help with the bike tour, which is now based at the school and accompanies the festivities each year. The club also will accept donations for the Red Cross and LiveStrong. Donors will receive a LiveStrong bracelet and a ticket for a mountain bike give-away.
The high school's role in the Oliver Hardy Festival helps attract more youth.
"The festival wouldn't be as fun for students without their help because there would only be stuff for parents and no student attractions," said Harlem High senior and cheerleader Meagan Waters.
Dean also credits student participation with helping make the festival more successful by drawing in parents and other students, which raises attendance numbers.
Student involvement is favorable for all it brings to the festival, Dean said.
"I think it (student participation) adds to it, gives it a whole other dynamic," Dean said. "I promote it. I enjoy it."
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