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Oak Park was the setting for this Portland cultural group to celebrate -- and invite the public

DAVID F. ASHTON - Central Precinct Police Officer Caroline Greulich meets the author of the book The Traveler - who is also a musician, and a Palestinian from East Jerusalem, Mohammad Bader - as also does Officer Michael Greenee. From all over the Portland metropolitan area, celebrants came to historic Oaks Amusement Park for the 2017 "Mahrajan", an event in Arabian culture meaning "a cross between a concert and a party", all day on Saturday, September 2.

Centered in the south section of the park, along the Willamette River, this fair – hosted by the Arab American Cultural Center of Oregon (AACCO) – proved to be a fun and family-friendly day filled with games, dancing, music, and food and crafts from around the Arab world.

This was the seventh annual such festival, and the second time it was held at The Oaks, said AACCO Board President Rima Ghandour. "Here, we welcome everyone to participate. This is the celebration of Arab-American heritage and culture!"

"It is an Arab-American community event, to help get people together – not based on race, or religion – just to get everybody out here from all 22 Arabian countries, including newcomers to the United States, refugees, and people who of immigrated here decades ago. All come together to celebrate our rich culture," Ghandour explained.

"Just as important is that this gives us a delightful way for us to interact and meet the greater community here in Portland, helping them learn about us, our art, food, and other cultural activities."

To escape the heat, a crowd of people listened to live music, followed by a demonstration of folkloric dancing. Others toured a bazaar of Arab-American businesses, while yet other guests took in art and cultural artifact exhibits at the festival.

The freshly-cooked culturally-specific food was enjoyed by many at Oaks Park, as were beverages – including Turkish coffee.

"Please let your readers know how much we love the welcoming attitude of people here at The Oaks," Ghandour smiled. "The best part of this for me is seeing how our Portland community comes together with our Arab-American community to find commonality, and love."

Learn more about the Arab American Cultural Center of Oregon by visiting their website: www.araboregon.org

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