By Ali Nicole

On World Kindness Day, Sunday, Nov. 13, kindSBY and the city of Salisbury teamed up once again to spread kindness. For five years Salisbury has participated in the worldwide Dance for Kindness event, but this year Kindness Ambassador, Grace Murdock, and the city decided to make the event even bigger with Kindness Palooza. 

Hundreds of locals enjoyed this year’s Kindness Palooza, which was held on the Downtown Riverwalk and was an hour longer than previous years. The day was jam packed with activities, dancing, music, giveaways, a drive to benefit the local mobile shower, and, of course, community kindness. 

This year’s first ever Kindness Palooza evolved from the annual Dance for Kindness event.
Pictured, guests were invited to take cards in the Kindness Tunnel to spread words of

“We want the kindness you experience today to expand into the community,” Murdock said as she expressed her appreciation to event sponsors and vendor/volunteer organizer, Heather Brooks. “We want to make kindness a festival,” Brooks replied. Kindness Palooza is, indeed, shaping up to be a festival. 

Each vendor brought with them kindness, not just in support, but in active engagement. Most vendors had items to give away like bookmarks, coloring pages and posters but some went even further and got the community involved. Attendees were able to take part in a group painting, leave kind messages on foam hearts that were displayed on trees and personalize cards with candy to give to another person to show kindness. 

Many of the vendors shared their thoughts on the importance of this event and spreading kindness. 

Mike Hedlesky of MAC, Inc. shared that the kindness activity they brought to the event — filling out cards to give to the seniors at the center — is, “something people can do whenever they want to show appreciation and brighten up their day.” 

“I love unity and all community events that help promote unity and bring people together. I especially like to promote kindness,” said Loaves of Love owner, Donna Lee Nefferdorf. 

Of kindness, Angela Morton of Faith Over Fear, stated, “It’s important and should be spread everywhere.” 

The experience extended beyond the vendors and their work to spread kindness. Attendees enjoyed chalk art and hula hooping with local purveyor of wellness, HoolaGuru, while Sherman the Shorebird and Sammy the Seagull danced and fist-bumped their way around the amphitheater. 

In between remarks, dances and music, giveaways were called for ticket after ticket which participants could store in their new Kindness Palooza reusable tote, a free gift to each attendee. 

On the way to get treats from one of the local food trucks, passing through the Kindness Tunnel was a must so you could pick up cards made for spreading kindness and reminding you to be kind to yourself because you are beautiful too. 

Dancing of all kinds – not just the official Dance for Kindness – took place throughout the day, from Zumba with Deatrice Leonard to line dancing. Heart & Sole Step Team put on a fantastic routine, stepping and clapping to show up for kindness in Salisbury. The Dance for Kindness also took place – a choreographed number learned around the world in more than 50 cities and performed for World Kindness Day. The dance will be included in the worldwide montage via non-profit, Life Vest Inside, a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring, empowering and educating people of all backgrounds to lead a life of kindness. 

The event was made possible this year by the continued partnership with the city of Salisbury, the care and kindness of community members and volunteers, kindSBY and event sponsors, which included Elks Lodge 817, Perdue, Salisbury University, Salisbury University Foundation, Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce, SBYARTS & Entertainment District, Pepsi, Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore and several anonymous donors.

To put into words what transpired at Kindness Palooza can never fully convey the impact of being present. There was a sense of easy connection and comfort in thinking about kindness and supporting acts of kindness alongside other people in the community.

Peace and joy was evident, even as the temperature dropped, the wind picked up and the clouds hid the sun. Having been to a multitude of community events, this writer has never experienced anything comparable.

As Murdock shared, “the more people you engage in [kindness] and have people participate, the better chance our community will continue to grow kindness.”

Kindness certainly grew that day and will continue to grow because of the people in the community who are investing in it.