Puppet show organizer, director pulls strings to publicize upcoming Zimbabwe Run and Fair

Apala Egan/Special to the Town Crier
Jade Perry serves as director of this year’s Zimbabwe Run and Fair, scheduled March 20 at St. Joseph School in Mountain View.

Jade Perry first learned about the Zimbabwe Run and Fair in Mountain View years ago as a junior at Los Altos High School. Intrigued, she contacted race organizer Ellen Clark, who founded the annual event as a fundraiser for an orphanage in Zimbabwe. This year’s event is scheduled March 20.

Now Perry is the fair director.

“I love helping Ellen – she is so kind,” she said. “This has a wonderful community feel to it.”

Perry noted that one effective way to publicize the fair is to produce puppet shows for children and families weeks ahead. Perry recalled that over the years she and Clark have conducted puppet shows at local bookstores as well as at adult education centers where families were “delighted” by the presentations on African wildlife.

Perry began preparations months ago. This year’s fair motif – a giraffe – supports three underlying themes: “Be Fit,” “Create Art” and “Help Others.” The focus of the event is not merely to raise funds, but also to provide engaging activities with an emphasis on education. There are board games centering on geography that feature matching faces and costumes with the country of origin, and identifying physical features and locating them on a map. Other familiar games boast an African twist, such as “Pin the Tail on the Zebra.”

Another game invented by Clark involves the baobab tree that grows in the African savanna. The tree has many uses, but one intriguing feature is that its oddly shaped branches look like tree roots, so it is often referred to as the “upside down tree.” She uses this reverse concept to focus on not what the participants are giving Africa, but rather on what they receive from Africa. On pieces of paper, children list all of the gifts they’ve received – adding various aspects of music, art and culture – and pin them on a tree.

Clark and Perry acknowledged that not all children are able or willing to participate in the run. That’s why they’ve created an Africa-themed art contest, free and open to all, that requires youngsters to drop off their artwork ahead of time.

An avid shutterbug, Perry has photographed the annual Zimbabwe Run since her high school days. She now attends San Jose State University.

The 17th annual Zimbabwe Run and Fair is slated for noon March 20 at St. Joseph School, 1120 Miramonte Ave., Mountain View. The entry fee is $5 per runner. Runners of all ages are invited to participate.

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