Christian Funes listened to the music intently then began to dance.
“You have to make a circle to the sounds of the music, and you have to make your movements match the sound that you hear,” he said.
Funes was one of several children learning to dance at the Dalton Community Center as part of “Dalton/Whitfield Celebrating Our Community Children” Saturday.
Dalton-Whitfield Senior Center Assistant Director Julie Dyer was conducting the class.
“We are celebrating diversity through dance. So I am introducing them to music and dance moves from Israeli music, Irish music, Mexican folk music, contemporary Latino music and even some music from the 1950s and the 1980s,” she said.
Community Center Director Tom Pinson said the idea for the event came from Dalton’s Baha’i Faith Community.
“They very much wanted to celebrate our diversity and our unity, so Dalton Parks and Recreation got together with them, Kool Smiles and the Concerned Citizens to put this on,” he said. “We’ve got dance. We’ve got arts and crafts. We’ve got the Rolling Video Games truck outside and the moon walk. We are giving away free hot dogs and free popcorn.”
Peggy Robbins, a member of the Baha’i community, was teaching children how to make beaded friendship bracelets.
“We’ve made quite a few so far. The children really seem to enjoy it,” she said. “We wanted to do something for the community to encourage unity, something that involved children. And this was a great opportunity.”
Miesha Smith was waiting to take part in the Rolling Video Games. It was her first visit to the Community Center.
“It looks like fun,” she said.
In addition to the “celebrating children” event, the Community Center was also hosting part of a Youth Basketball of America tournament, which brought hundreds of players and their parents from around Georgia and Tennessee.
“They are using eight gyms across the city, and it’s headquartered here at the Community Center,” said Pinson. “I believe we have 68 teams taking part. This is the first. I believe we are going to have two more of these this year.”
Pinson said this weekend was a bit busier than usual at the Community Center but not by much.
“We have something here every weekend,” he said.
The Community Center opened in early January after being rebuilt, and Pinson says that between 400 and 500 people have used the facility each day since it opened. The old community center typically had 75 to 100 people come through each day.
“We get people from all over the city and from all over the county use it,” he said.