By Mira Olson, Contributing Reporter
The organization’s signature event and one of its greatest fund-raising opportunities, America’s Day intends to satisfy the longing for small town Independence Day celebrations of American expats far from home. “We want to offer Americans and Brazilians a true American experience,” explains AmSoc President and Board Member Lindsay Duval, which was exactly what they did.
Despite being nestled in the lush Atlantic Forest in the hills of Gávea and visibly surrounded by favelas, the school setting still managed to create an authentic feeling reminiscent of traditional American community festivals. Red, white and blue decorated the entrance, where attendees were given name tags and encouraged to buy raffle tickets or browse the selection at the used book drive.
An array of arts and crafts and sports activities for participants of all ages filled the outdoor athletic field where the party was held, including a “Piggy Bank Decoration Contest”, a beanbag toss and a hard-fought adult softball game. All the while families danced to the classic Rock and Roll hits provided by the Arizona Band, who played throughout the afternoon on the stage set up at the far end of the field.
Joe and Leo’s Burgers supplied hot dogs and hamburgers to accompany other American cookout necessities such as potato salad, ice cream, watermelon and pickles. AmSoc member Gary Urban donated several cases of his Garytos corn tortilla chips, and Fellini provided an assortment of cakes.
While the event’s purpose is to foster a hometown American environment, America’s Day successfully incorporated elements of Carioca culture too, including a capoeira performance by a group of youths from a community center in the Rocinha favela.
The American Society and the American School actively contribute to various community projects in nearby favelas, and the event serves as yet another opportunity to raise awareness. America’s Day proceeds are generally destined towards different NGOs and development initiatives.
The American School is the festivity’s regular host, and as such America’s Day is held during term time rather than on or around the Fourth of July (which coincides with winter vacation) in order to assure greater attendance and student participation.
The American Society of Rio de Janeiro is itself a non-profit association dedicated to celebrating American heritage and ideals. Its activities are intended to build cross-cultural relationships and contribute to the city community through social, educational and charitable activities. Around 185 Americans, Brazilians and other foreign expats are currently active members of the Society and attend the monthly Happy Hours and commemorative that it hosts.
Founded in 1917, the American Society played an important role in American foreign policy in Brazil until the country’s capital was relocated to Brasilia, and today the organization still actively works in collaboration with the American Consulate in Rio.
For further information on the American Society of Rio de Janeiro, visit the website: http://www.riosocieties.com.br/amsoc/default.asp.