BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Master percussionist Steve Scales has played with Talking Heads, The B-52s, Tom Tom Club and Yoko Ono, but Thursday he was no match for Mary Ann Douglas, who joined him in a drum circle celebrating Earth Day downtown.
“That was Mary Ann. She’s a ringer, though. She’s a professional rock and roller,” Scales joked, as a smiling Douglas, a client at the Kennedy Center for people with special needs, shook his hand.
The drum circle was part of the first Bridgeport EarthFest, a day of free activities — from a recycled arts and crafts session at the Kennedy Center’s Maggie Daily Arts Co-op to a session of tai chi under cloudless skies to a storytelling performance by The Sierra Club.
Co-chair Stephany Brown noted there was an Earth Day event downtown last year. But EarthFest, co-sponsored by the co-op and The Bijou Theatre, is much larger. Organizers hope to make it an annual event.
“We just wanted to celebrate Earth Day,” she said. “We’re here to help bring people together and be a community.”
A state grant helped pay for the programming. People’s United Bank, Pullman & Comley; Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder, Green and Gross and Downtown Special Services District also sponsored the day’s events.
They culminated in a reception for the co-op artists Earth Day exhibit at the Bijou. Friends, family, and art lovers enjoyed light refreshments and music, while viewing the unique creations made from recycled items in a juried show featuring 10 local artists.
“The whole theory of this EarthFest was recycling,” said Maura O’Donnell, general manager of the Bijou. “There’s been some wonderful, wonderful work. It’s very uplifting.”
Food trucks and the public library’s bookmobile were on hand for those attending the outdoor events at McLevy Green.
Many of those gathered for the drum circle were consumers of the Trumbull-based Kennedy Center, a private organization providing community services to people with disabilities. Scales said he led a fall internship at one of the center’s Milford outposts, working with consumers three to four days a week.
He and his band also provided the lively entertainment for the center’s February fundraiser at the Fairfield Theatre Company.
“I love the consumers,” Scales said after the drum circle. “I will go out of my way to make them happy. They’re like angels to me.”
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