Photo Credit: Love Haight Photography

On Friday, August 11th, over 300 Police Athletic League (PAL) children from PAL centers throughout the city gathered for Cultural Day, held at the PAL Harlem Center at 441 Manhattan Avenue. From the colorful celebration of the Lantern Festival in China to the glitz and glamour of Carnaval in Brazil, PAL children in 3rd and 4th grades celebrated and shared PAL’s Cultural Day theme, “Festivals from Around the World.”  2023 Cultural Day highlights included a banner and chant parade with young people carrying homemade banners from their PAL centers and performing a creative chant, interactive booth displays where the PAL youngsters shared the knowledge of the country they studied, in addition to performances with young people in costumes.  

Through PAL’s 2023 curriculum theme, “Festivals from Around the World,” PAL participants discovered and explored the rich culture of their selected country through that country’s largest festival.  Participants at each PAL center dedicated time to learning about the cultural or religious significance of their selected festival, as well as the language, food, music, costumes and traditions of the country/territories represented.  Country/territories at PAL’s Cultural Day included: Spain, Bahamas, Ghana, Barbados, United States, Trinidad & Tobago, China, Croatia, Belize, Mexico, Uruguay, Virgin Islands, Grenada, and Brazil. 

“Every camper was so excited to share what they had learned and discovered about the culture and roots of the festival they selected. It was wonderful to see all of the incredible enthusiasm, and creativity on display! It was an excellent example of what happens when you center young people’s talents and interests” says Meredith Gray, Police Athletic League Director of Education & Training.                                    

“I learned about the Bahamian flag, that it’s black, gold and aquamarine, and what it symbolizes.  We’re going to share what we learned about the Goombay Bahamas festival.  I’m excited for Cultural Day, and I know I’m going to have fun,” says Demetri, 10, of PAL’s Edward Byrne Center in Jamaica, Queens.  

“We learned about St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. I am excited to perform and to see all the other centers perform as well,” says Charlotte, 9, of PAL’s Webster Center, in the Bronx. 

“Cultural Day is so much fun! I’ve never done anything like this before. I held up my banner and did the chant celebrating Brazil,” says McKinzey, 10, of PAL’s Wynn Center, in Brooklyn. 

“We learned about Uruguay and are doing chants and dances. I think Cultural Day is a  fun idea. I learned different things about Uruguay – like they make churros! I liked the dance from Uruguay that we learned, and I’m excited to perform it,” says Chloe, 10, of Staten Island. 

Awards for PAL’s Cultural Day included: Best Banner & Chant – PAL’s Edward Byrne Center in Queens; Best Interactive Booth – PAL’s PS 13 on Staten Island; Best Performance – PAL’s Edward Byrne Center in Queens.  Overall Cultural Day Awards were given to: PAL’s Edward Byrne Center in Queens – 1st Place; PAL’s Harlem Center – 2nd Place; and PAL’s Wynn Center in Brooklyn – 3rd Place.             

Founded in 1914, New York City’s Police Athletic League is a nonprofit organization that provides recreational, educational, cultural and social activities to 15,000 children and teens annually. For more information, please visit

Photo Credit: Love Haight Photography