Wake Up The Earth 2014 Wrap-Up: ‘A Magical Day’

It’s the Tuesday after another Wake Up The Earth Festival, and the grassy slope opposite Stony Brook T is spotless.

It takes some effort to remember that on Saturday, the whole stretch from the station down past New Minton Street swarmed with the kaleidoscope of life that is Wake Up The Earth.

One of the organizers, Maaak Pelletier, stops to chat. He’s sleep-deprived from the frenzy of putting on the neighborhood’s biggest party.

“For me, the biggest key to success is the fact that we do it where we do it,” said Pelletier. “When you add the people who live around here, it turns into a magical day.”

Saturday had the added luck of partly sunny weather and a high of 67.

‘Whatever People Can Imagine’

It’s Pelletier’s tenth year as an organizer, though he’s been participating in it since 1990.

The festival and parade keep evolving. People bring their ideas each year, and some of them wind up as part of the big day. Recent innovations include the Skate Stage over by the skate park. Spontaneous Celebrations, the community center that puts on Wake Up The Earth, helped Fancy Lad Skates convince state authorities to allow the skate park. The mini-golf, which returned this year, is another idea that sprang from the community.

This weekend was the 36th edition of the festival. At root, it’s a celebration of how the community organized itself to keep I-95 from destroying much of JP and dividing the rest in two.

No Police Reports Tied to This Year’s Festival

As anyone who has been to Wake Up The Earth knows, it has a deep “peace” vibe. And year after year, thousands of people gather without major incidents. A review of police reports from Saturday shows not a single one tied to Wake Up The Earth. Pelletier can only remember one fight in the 24 years he’s participated in or helped run the event. And that was between a musician and a sound guy who knew each other.

“It’s remarkable in that way,” he said.

The presence of the neighborhood police officers helps, Pelletier said, noting that Captain Alfredo Andres — the new leader the E-13 district — was a strong presence on Saturday.

“It was great to work with the new captain,” Pelletier said.

How to Help Future Festivals

After a very satisfying 2014 edition of Wake Up The Earth, Pelletier said about all he can wish for is more hands for the 2015 version.

“We rely on the help of a really small, tight crew,” he said.

To volunteer, visit the Spontaneous Celebrations website to let them know you’d like help. If you’ve got money but not time, that’s good too. The party costs about $30,000 to put on and is just a “break-even proposition” for Spontaneous.