Wausau summer kicks off with Caribbean spice - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Wausau summer kicks off with Caribbean spice

WAUSAU (WAOW) -- The rain held off long enough Saturday for Wausau to welcome the summer months.

This was the city's Summer Kick Off Weekend. The festivities included a Caribbean market on the 400 Block in downtown Wausau.

The philanthropy organization that put on this festival is called the Good News Project. They take service trips to Caribbean countries and with Saturday's market, organizers say they were trying to bring a slice of Caribbean life back here to central Wisconsin.

There was art, food and a summer mood.

"[We're] getting people thinking about summer and warm breezes and oceans and 'Come on, let's go,'" said Christine Daniels, the executive director of the Good News Project. "Not everyone can afford to go so let's just bring it here."

The Good News Project takes volunteers on service trips to developing countries in the West Indies. They wanted to ring in summer with a Caribbean twist.

"We thought this would be a fun way to tie in what we do in the Caribbean and bring it back to Wausau," Daniels said.

People who have been project volunteers say the festival made their minds wander back abroad.

"It brings back many wonderful memories of our time down there," said Andrea Mackie of Lake City, MN. "The people that we met, we met some of the volunteers that we worked with and some of the islanders as well so it's been very special."

Mackie volunteered in St. Lucia 15 years ago. She was particularly drawn to the fashion and still wears some of the items she bought.

"Beautiful colors," she said. "The colors were like the island and it just sang to me so I had to have it."

For Jennifer Hoehne, it was the jerk chicken that practically had her singing.

"It was awesome," she said. "Nice, good kick to it."

Hoehne and Mackie are just two of what organizers say was at least 500 people exploring Caribbean culture.

"We're just blown away by the crowd already so it's been beyond our expectations," said Daniels.

"Worth the trip, absolutely," Mackie said. "We're having a wonderful time here today."

Wausau's Summer Kick Off continues Sunday with a change of pace from today's Caribbean festival. A classic car show on the 400 Block starts at 10 a.m.
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