With clear weather and mild temperatures, people from all over Rome and the surrounding areas took over the Forum River Center for the Winter Wonderland and Ice Festival.
“The rain prevented us from having the carnival games and bouncy houses yesterday, but today we have a lot more people coming in,” Jessie Reed said Sunday.
Reed is the president of AMP Rome, a local organization that promotes awareness of the variety of cultures in and around Rome.
The purpose of the carnival and festival is to bring the community together to learn more about the different cultural backgrounds Rome residents share.
Local magician Michael Frisbee greeted people and performed a few magic tricks for those coming into the Forum.
At the Kwanzaa booth, Willie Mae Samuel taught attendees about the seven principles: unity, creativity, self-determination, work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose and faith.
These principles are celebrated each day of the seven-day celebration.
“Each day, we discuss a new principle and light a candle on the Kinara,” Samuel said.
Samuel described the last day as a time of food, music and dancing. Gifts “from the heart” are exchanged on this day, such as drawings and poems.
Kwanzaa is celebrated at the end of December, starting the day after Christmas and ending on New Year’s Day.
Members of the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints hosted their own booth and talked to attendees about Light the World, the service-oriented Christmas celebration that takes place throughout all of December.
“It encourages everyone to reach out to others, like Christ did,” Carol Scharnhorst said.
A calendar is handed out to those who participate and each day represents a different service or act of kindness.
Some examples of these services or acts are donating blood, calling a parent and giving a gift to a neighbor.
Along with the informational booths, arts and crafts vendors were present at the event, such as wood carvers and crocheters. Outside, a bouncy house took over the Town Green and Jerusalem Grill served up food from their truck.