Local News

Thousands brave steamy temps for Raleigh tornado relief fest

Posted July 30, 2011 10:22 p.m. EDT
Updated July 30, 2011 11:31 p.m. EDT

— A tornado relief festival in downtown Raleigh was somewhat shortened when severe weather drifted through the area Saturday night, but thousands of people braved hot, steamy temperatures to party throughout the day.

The ComeUnityNow Festival featured music, dance and arts at City Plaza on Fayetteville Street from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m., though many people left early due to rainfall. 

The event was free and open to the public, but $10 VIP tickets got spectators closer to the stage. Donations were also encouraged, as organizers hoped to reach their goal of raising $100,000. 

"The immediacy of the tornado was one thing, but the long-term recovery is very important," said ComeUnityNow director Jim Bailey. "There's a lot in our community that's yet to be taken care of." 

Proceeds will benefit the Wake Interfaith Disaster Team, which is offering long-term recovery assistance to victims of the April 16 tornadoes, and the Green Chair Project, which provides low-cost furniture for needy families, including those who lost everything in the storms.

"It means a lot," said festival goer Deedee Tucker. "Anything to help out people that need help and if I can do it, let's do it." 

It wasn't clear whether organizers met their goal of bringing 5,000 people out to the event, but many who did attend said that temperatures topping triple digits put a cramp in their good time. 

"It was hot. It was very hot," said Kathy Langfield.

Natalie Griffith, a driver for Raleigh Rickshaws, was helping transport people to and from City Plaza. She said it was tough to stay cool.

"You just have to hydrate a whole lot; hydrate a whole lot and find some shade wherever you can," she said.