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Lake Anne Hosts Annual Multicultural Festival

Event features day of international culture, food.

Ellen Graves leads newly naturalized citizens in the Pledge of Allegiance Saturday, Sept. 22 at Lake Anne.

Ellen Graves leads newly naturalized citizens in the Pledge of Allegiance Saturday, Sept. 22 at Lake Anne. Photo by Alex McVeigh.

— Saturday, Sept. 22 marked the first time Jesse Ekland and Alicia Morales attended the Reston Multicultural Festival as a couple, but they used it to celebrate their anniversary anyway. That’s because it served as a catalyst for their relationship.

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From left, Leida, Camila, 6, Andres, 10 and Moises Mejia at the Reston Multicultural Festival Saturday Sept. 22. Leida was one of 25 immigrants who were naturalized at the beginning of the festival.

"I moved to Reston last September for a new job, and I was out for a Saturday morning run last year when I came upon the start of the festival, and they were doing a Bolivian dance," Eklund said. "When I moved in, I met Alicia, one of my neighbors in my apartment building who mentioned she was from Bolivia. To be completely honest, I was looking for a way to strike up a conversation with her, and telling her about the traditional Bolivian dance I had just seen."

Morales said she was skeptical at first, but after Eklund showed her a few pictures and video on his phone, it led to a conversation.

"I bet he had the whole thing planed all along," she said with a laugh. "He showed me the photos and video, and asked what certain things were, and next thing I know, we made plans for dinner. So this is a special event to come back here."

RESTON CELEBRATED ITS DIVERSITY Saturday, Sept. 22, with its 12th annual Multicultural Festival at Lake Anne Plaza. The festival paid tribute to both the people and culture of countries around the world, with cultural displays throughout the day and the welcoming of 25 new immigrants as citizens.

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Twenty-five newly naturalized citizens celebrate after taking the oath of allegiance at Lake Anne, part of the Reston Multicultural Festival Saturday, Sept. 22.

The naturalization ceremony has been a part of the Multicultural Festival for the past two years, and is a favorite of many local officials who attended.

"This is one of my favorite things to do during the year. To come to the Multicultural festival, but also this naturalization ceremony," said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova. "I always look forward to welcoming our newest citizens."

After the ceremony, the festival began its multicultural activities. Students from the H.K. Lee Tae Kwon Do Academy took the main stage, while the Traveling Players’ Middle School Ensemble performed the fairytale "Blue Monster."

"The festival is a great opportunity to walk 100 feet and find yourself in a whole other world than the one you were just in," said Mary Stein of Vienna. "We went from making crafts by the fountain, to looking at international books in the community center. Definitely great for packing a lot in the space of an hour or two."

Reston Association Board President Ken Knueven said events celebrating local diversity are a hallmark of the Reston Community.

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Members of H.K. Lee Academy of Tae Kwon Do perform at the Reston Multicultural Festival Saturday, Sept. 22.

"Reston Association is a very large community, approaching 60-70,000 people, thousands of homes and most importantly, a very diverse population," he said. "Whether you’re rich or poor, young or old, single or have a family, or wherever you came from, Reston welcomes you and wants you to stay here. We’re very proud of that tenet, and I think it’s well represented at an event like this."

SUPERVISOR CATHY HUDGINS (D-Hunter Mill) said that diversity was a prime factor in her family’s decision to come to Reston, and that it was incumbent on the community to continue that aspect.

"When my family came to Reston 43 years ago we were welcomed into the tiny little town," she said. "What was built into Robert Simon’s vision was an open community. Today we are growing by leaps and bounds, but we are not changing our values."