Salisbury uses humor to showcase programs at All-America City competiton

Published 12:10 am Sunday, June 19, 2016

By Amanda Raymond

DENVER — The All-America City competition delegation felt good about their presentation in front of judges on Saturday, but will it be enough to win Salisbury the award?

Salisbury was one of 20 finalists for the National Civic League’s 2016 All-America City Award. Ten cities win the award every year.

The last time Salisbury won was in 1961.

This year’s focus was on the work communities were doing to help children live healthy lives and succeed in school and life.

The programs included in the city’s application were Fit for Motion, a health leadership program for second-graders, the co-principal program at Knox Middle School and the Norvell Theater. Adults and children from the program were part of the presentation, along with The Mini Funk Factory Marching Band.

The finalists from all over the country performed their presentations in front of a panel of 11 jurors in the ballroom of the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel. They had 10 minutes to give their presentation and jurors asked questions about different aspects of programs at the end.

Some cities decided to simply take turns talking about different programs from organizer and participant perspectives. Some used props and pictures, and others showcased some of the talent their young people possessed.

Other cities took a different route and performed skits and wore costumes to showcase their city’s programs.

Before Salisbury’s turn, Aicha Kahia, whose two sons were part of the presentation, said the children would lead Salisbury’s presentation, which reflects Salisbury’s true nature.

“Really, our community focuses on kids,” she said.

She also said the children taking the lead would be what set their presentation apart.

Shawn Henderson, Sr., who was part of the presentation along with his son, said after watching other groups perform he thought Salisbury’s presenters needed to increase their enthusiasm.

“I really do feel that we have a really good chance of making top 10,” he said.

Courtney Williams, from the Norvell Theater, said although she was excited about the possibility of winning, she still had some jitters.

“I’m kind of nervous because I have one of the main parts and I’m scared that if I trip up then everyone else is going to trip up,” she said.

Josh Wainright, Piedmont Players Theatre marketing director, said many of the adults in the presentation were more nervous than the children.

“We just have to remember to have fun,” he said.

The presenters had to leave the nervousness behind as the marched up to the stage to the beat of drums played by the Mini Funk Band.

For its presentation, Salisbury performed a skit with costumes and props. Parks and Recreation Director Nick Aceves was in a dinosaur costume, Norvell Theater participant Owen Teague was Davy Crocket and the Livingstone College Blue Bear mascot made an appearance.

In the skit, Ali Khatib and Courtney Williams, along with Kent Bernhardt, heard auditions for community members who wanted to take part in the presentation. While different groups and individuals auditioned, they gave the jurors information about the featured programs.

The skit used humor to break up the more informational parts. Mayor Karen Alexander auditioned multiple times as different people to try to get on the delegation. Alison Veros got big laughs when she came out on stage wearing a red Vegas showgirl outfit, complete with a red feather headpiece.

“Sorry, ma’am, but Las Vegas was at 3:25. This is Salisbury, North Carolina,” Ali Khatib said.

After answering a few questions from the judges, the delegation again walked out to drums from the Mini Funk Band.

Once out in the lobby, everyone embraced one another and celebrated a job well done.

Mayor Karen Alexander said the group did well speaking their lines and presenting the information.

“The children were just the stars … and so were the grown ups,” she said.

National Civic League President Doug Linkhart said it was “always a hard decision” for the jurors to choose the 10 winning cities.

“I think all of these communities, including Salisbury, are already winners,” he said.

The 10 winners will be announced on Sunday evening.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.