PEABODY — It was the kind of weather they must have in heaven.
Only, they had it in Peabody yesterday, and despite competition from the televised Red Sox and Patriots, it drew thousands to Peabody Square for the 30th annual International Festival. Music, dance and a mouth-watering variety of ethnic dishes are meant to celebrate Peabody’s diverse population, but this party has long attracted people from outside the city, even outside the North Shore.
“The International Festival is a very important part of our city,” Mayor Ted Bettencourt told the throng — at least he told those who could be lured away from the food stands. “We have to do even more in the years to come,” he added.
Crafts and artworks were also on display and for sale at the International Festival Galleria. Under clear blue skies, kids carried balloons and had their faces painted at the Leather City Common. Politicians shook hands. And entertainers worked two main stages, with some ethnic dancers in traditional dress on the agenda.
“We got a pretty good crowd because of the weather,” said Peabody police Lt. William Cook. “Several thousand people.” Moreover, as of 5:30 p.m., he hadn’t heard of any problems associated with the event. “Everything’s gone smoothly.”
“I’ve been coming here since I was little,” said Maria Fenn, who carried her infant daughter, Alexandra, as niece Penelope Spack blew bubbles nearby. “This is exciting.” She gestured to the happy crowds surging past in an area on Lowell Street closed to traffic and bounded by Peabody Square and the Leather City Common entrance. “We’ve had a good time.”
At a booth for the Peabody High School girls varsity hockey team, the players saw an opportunity to raise funds selling “Whoopie (Pies) Pucks” and to get the word out.