Communiversity, a collaboration between Princeton University and the Arts Council of Princeton, will turn the center of town into an outdoor music festival and farmers market combined this Sunday, April 28, between 1 and 6 p.m.
The 42nd annual Town-Gown event is expected to draw more than 40,000 visitors to Nassau and Witherspoon Streets, the green in Palmer Square, and the University campus. Over 200 booths will showcase original art and contemporary crafts, unique merchandise, food, and community groups. Five stages will host entertainment for all ages.
Performance highlights include central Jersey area artists: Danielia Cotton, Some Like it Hot Club, Luke Elliot, Blue Jersey Band, Dave Grossman, Rainbow Fresh, The Blue Meanies and Stephanie White and the Philth Harmonics, among others.
Dance performances and demonstrations include The ARB/Princeton Ballet School, Bollywood dancing from Aaja Nachale, and Flamenco dancing from Lisa Botalico and Fiesta Flamenco.
For kids, Stone Soup Circus will begin parading at 1:15 p.m. from Nassau Hall to the Palmer Square Stage, where family-friendly entertainment continues through the afternoon. There will be art-themed games, projects, and workshops at The Arts Council where “Nana’s-Make-A-Mess” presents an assortment of materials for hands-on creativity. The University will also host kid-friendly attractions such as sports clinics, a pie-throwing contest, a bounce house, and dunk tank.
New this year is The Arts Council’s “Paint Out Princeton” project showcasing local painters in action. Until 4 p.m., local artists will be working at their easels painting scenes that capture the spirit of the day on canvas. The work will then be displayed at a Wet Work Exhibition and Sale in the Paul Robeson Center for the Arts from 4:30 to 6 p.m.
Today’s Town and Gown celebration began in 1971 when the Arts Council of Princeton held “The Art People’s Party” with musicians, artists, and crafters. In 1974, the annual party was held on the grounds surrounding McCarter Theater and was dedicated in honor of William Shakespeare’s birthday. In 1976, when it was held on the Washington Road Bridge, festival attendees arrived by boat.
Students from Princeton University joined the party in 1985 and the name “Communiversity” was coined. Over the years -highlights have included a giant banana split fundraiser in 1987 and a “Communiversity Brew” from Triumph Brewing Company in 2001, when the closing concert featured Willie Nelson.
The tragic bombings in Boston have brought the issue of security to the minds of local officials and there will be an increased police presence this year.
Princeton Administrator Robert W. Bruschi said that in advance of the event there have been meetings with all of the emergency planning groups from fire to first aid as well as public works to discuss protocols and refresh everyone on how to handle different situations ranging from a lost child to imminent danger.
While Princeton Police Captain Nick Sutter, who is effectively covering the duties of Police Chief in the absence of David Dudeck, was reluctant to give specific details in terms of police strategy and numbers of law enforcement officers, he was able to comment on an increase in “officers committed to foot patrol inside the event as well as regular vehicle patrol.” He said: “We will have our officers in highly visible traffic vests for ease of identification for the public.”
The Department of Public Safety at Princeton University will be working closely with local police. Along with the Mercer County Sheriff’s department, they have agreed to supply resources and help with staffing.
“As we do every year, we are taking prudent measures to ensure safety,” said Mr. Sutter. As for advice to the public, he asks for vigilance from all. “People should report any suspicious activity to officers in the area and follow our Twitter and Facebook feeds for the latest information and alerts,” he said.
Landau’s New Mascot
Members of the press and patrons of Landau on Nassau Street turned out to welcome Lindi’s successor to Princeton on Monday. Princeton residents will recall Lindi as the Icelandic ram which stood outside the store as its mascot for some 35 years until it disappeared last July.
The theft was widely reported and the owners had hoped that Lindi, a favorite with Princeton children and visitors, would be returned as had happened once before when two students from The College of New Jersey had held the 150 pound Lindi for ransom. That was 16 years ago and Lindi was safely returned.
Last year’s theft is still unsolved and Lindi has never been seen.
Landau’s owners debated whether to find a replacement. But so many people asked about Lindi, that they felt a new mascot was desirable.
Also from Iceland, Bjartur (pronounced byar-tur) is much lighter and fluffier than his predecessor. His name means pale or fair and he will most likely be kept indoors for safety’s sake. It’s not yet been decided where exactly. Like his predecessor, Bjartur is mounted on a wheeled platform so that he can be moved around easily.
The town’s FreeB Shuttle will run a special route for Communiversity, allowing people to travel from places where there is ample parking such as the Princeton Shopping Center, the Municipal Complex at Valley Road and Witherspoon Street, Elm Court, and Community Park North, to festival entrance points at the corner of Wiggins and Witherspoon Streets (see map for full details).
There is also the option of parking on local streets (free on Sunday) and in parking garages on Chambers, Hulfish, and Spring Streets. Additional parking can be found in Princeton University Lots 10 and 13, located off Washington Road on William Street.
For more information, visit: www.artscouncilofprinceton.org or call (609) 924-8777.