America on Main Street and its importance to the people of El Cajon

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It began with 20 years of the Friendship Festival, and after a 10-year lapse, it is back. But now it has taken on the name America on Main Street. Even though decades have passed from the many people involved in the original festival, 25 of the original groups are back and the city of El Cajon Recreation Department has worked diligently to recreate this multi-cultural festival using the blueprint from the original and adding much more for all people to enjoy.

It began with 20 years of the Friendship Festival, and after a 10-year lapse, it is back. But now it has taken on the name America on Main Street. Even though decades have passed from the many people involved in the original festival, 25 of the original groups are back and the city of El Cajon Recreation Department has worked diligently to recreate this multi-cultural festival using the blueprint from the original and adding much more for all people to enjoy.

There is a line up of entertainment, soccer tournaments in all three zones (red, white and blue) and a plethora of things to do and see for all ages, and a majority of it is free.

Mayor Pro-tempore Gary Kendrick and Councilmember Tony Ambrose have been at the forefront of bringing back this multi-cultural festival. In a short interview, Kendrick explains how the Friendship Festival affected him and his family and why America on Main Street is so important to the city of El Cajon.

“I’ve lived in El Cajon since 1988,” said Kendrick. “When my boys were little I would take them to the Friendship Festival and we would have a great time. I especially wanted them to go from booth to booth and try small samples of the different ethnic foods. It only cost a dollar or two and if you didn’t like it, it was no big deal. But we found out there were many foods that we really liked. That was the highlight of our year.”

“Then what would happen is between the Friendship Festivals is my boys and I would go to all kinds of different ethnic restaurants throughout San Diego County. We tried Vietnamese, Thai, Greek food and anything else we could think of. We got to know the owners of the restaurants. There is nothing better to promote friendship than to eat with someone, especially trying their specialty ethnic food.”

“My mom was from Czechoslovakia and my dad was an American soldier. So for Thanksgiving we would have turkey, which my mom had never seen until she came to the U.S. And I was about 20 years old when I figured out when I went to a friends house that not everybody ate sauerkraut and dumplings for Thanksgiving.”

“We are like a United Nations right here in El Cajon because we have representatives from just about every ethnic and religious group you can think of and everyone gets along really well. I want to promote that and celebrate our diversity.”

“The Recreation Department has done a wonderful job in pulling this back together as America on Main Street. One thing that I wanted from the beginning was to make it affordable. That is why there is a lot of free stuff. It’s like when you go to El Cajon’s Fourth of July fireworks, you see who we really are. People of El Cajon are from many different nationalities and families come out because they want to have a great time and be safe. This is the same, it is a safe, wholesome activity for the whole family where we get all of the different ethnic groups together.”

“I am looking forward to a great turnout and everybody having a good time. And people that normally wouldn’t interact with each other, by being together at this festival, they will have the opportunity to get to know each other and want to get to know them better. That is what this event is all about, bringing all the different cultures of El Cajon together to celebrate and share.”

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