The inaugural Unity in the Community event brought the Kutztown community together in an attempt to break a world record in the largest water balloon toss at Renninger's Farmers' Market in Maxatawny Township on Sept. 8. While the record was not broken, smiles and laughter abounded as water balloons burst. 

The two-day event, held Sept. 7 and 8, included a Saturday morning color run, live music, contests, food vendors, water balloon toss and a moon bounce for children.

Jim Renninger, event organizer, was inspired to host a community event that fosters community unity and kindness after seeing his son, age 6 at the time, show kindness at the Easter Egg Hunt by giving eggs to another child who was sad to not have any eggs.

“We need to be nice to each other,” said Renninger about the lesson he learned from his son.

He was also inspired after witnessing last year’s Unity Day at Kutztown University.

“Down at the college I saw that there was a group that came last winter and I didn’t like the message they were putting out. I figured if this group of people who have a hateful voice can have their own time, why can’t the people who want to get along and have fun in life have their own time.”

Much he sees in the news seems to be negative, he said.

“Why focus on the negative all of the time? Let’s try to start building things that are positive for everybody,” said Renninger. “I just wanted the community to come together and just have fun.”

The highlight of Unity in the Community was the attempt to break the world record for the largest water balloon toss. While the record was not broken, many joined in the fun, both children and adults.

“I thought (the balloon toss) was really cute and people are still having a lot of fun with it,” said Caecilia Holt, Kutztown.

Judy and John Mehltretter of Kutztown saw the flyer for the event and brought their grandson out for the water balloon toss.

“We love this area because they do a lot of things in this town. It’s a really great little town to be in,” said Judy. “(Unity) means getting everybody out here so that we can know more about each other and the community itself.”

Peace. Love. Kutztown., which is a campaign to spread kindness in Kutztown, was a sponsor of the Unity in the Community event.

“It was lovely to witness community happiness at Unity in the Community,” said Peace. Love. Kutztown. member Beth Patten, a Kutztown Middle School social studies teacher who came out with her family to participate in the water balloon toss alongside other Kutztown area community members.

“Our smiles and laughter united all of us as we watched the kids in the bounce house, saw neighbors play some corn hole and everyone get wet in the water balloon toss,” said Patten. “We are a community that works together to foster joy.”

Renninger hopes to host Unity in the Community again next year.

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Lisa Mitchell is an editor for Berks-Mont Newspapers, covering news and events in the Northeast Berks County area.

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