WARREN - Despite the rain, Courthouse Square was lined Saturday with students, youth groups and community members celebrating Peace Day.
A walk from Courthouse Square to the Warren Community Amphitheatre symbolized people across Trumbull County joining together to promote diversity and the need for change within the city.
Coordinated by Clyde and Jean Bolinger of Cortland, the day was influenced by the United Nation's establishment of an International Day of Peace in 1981.
Clyde Bolinger said spreading the word of peace was a calling, like a melody he couldn't stop humming.
"Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me," he said. "The walk is to get to the youth. Adults are too jaded, but the kids have a chance."
Local Peace Day celebrations began in Cortland in 2008 with the help of Mayor Curt Moll and were moved to Warren this year in collaboration with Mayor Doug Franklin.
Boy Scout Troop 15 led Saturday’s Peace Day march from Courthouse Square to the Warren Community Amphitheatre.
Tribune Chronicle / Alisa Manna
Franklin said that before Moll and Clyde Bolinger approached him about hosting the event, he wasn't aware of International Day of Peace.
"I thank them for introducing and educating me about this day," he said. "We pray this inspired action will welcome all and let peace truly begin with us."
Both Moll and Franklin said the move to Warren should lead to a larger celebration within the entire county, not just in some areas.
Prince of Peace church members Brandie Wagner and Cindy Orth, both of Cortland, said they've attended all the local Peace Day events since it began in 2008 and that it's a great way to teach their children about nonviolence.
"I'm excited for it to be in Warren. There's more visibility here and we can get the word out to more people," Wagner said.
Orth agreed, adding the collaboration of Cortland and Warren could lead to embracing more communities throughout Trumbull County.
Keynote speaker Judge Benita Y. Pearson, the first African-American female federal judge in Ohio, said peace starts with the acceptance of diversity. She said diversity was a significant part of her upbringing and still plays a role in her life. She also urged attendees to express themselves, regardless of others' reactions.
"Don't look at someone and think you know them, because I guarantee you don't," she said. "You don't need too many details about someone to respect them. And when in doubt, just smile."
Pearson also spoke directly to the students present about utilizing public resources or even a family member's wise words. She quoted her mother, stating, "Be a job, big or small, do it well or not at all," encouraging attendees to stay active in their goals and not to overlook how everything affects the future.
"Knowledge is a great equalizer," she said. "Take advantage of all opportunities to inform yourself. Everything you do now is preparation for the future."
Jefferson K-8 School teacher Sue Mizik identified with Pearson and said the event's effort to include Warren also reached school districts it previously didn't, including teachers who were unaware of the event.
Before this year, Warren G. Harding wasn't involved in the celebration, but Saturday's parade included the school's marching band and football team.
Mizik said Warren City Schools is including nonviolence in the curriculum as a part of its Skills For Life program, which focuses on peacemaking, healthy communication and even meditation.
"It's about peace beginning with yourself and then using it to interact with other people," Mizik said. "They are skills you need in life."
Warren G. Harding senior Tanera Salter said people should familiarize themselves with the importance of diversity, especially at an early age.
"Diversity will get you far in life. Work with different minds and don't judge people. More people need to hear about it and spread the word," she said.
Many of the 100 or so attendees hoped the day's celebration would attract a larger crowd next year, but most agreed if the message reached one unfamiliar face, it's a start.