The din and bustle created by the entire student body thronging the halls of Summit Cove Elementary Thursday night echoed that found in actual markets and mercados throughout the world.
This marked the second year for the project, dreamed up and organized by Kathy Langley, which not only creates a fun experience for the students but also raises money for philanthropic causes. Last year, the school raised $3,000 and donated it to local charities. This year, the money raised will be split three ways, going to the Summit County animal shelter, to Breckenridge doctor C. Louis "PJ" Perrinjaquet, who travels to impoverished locations throughout the world to offer his services, and to the Summit Cove green team.
"What's important for me is for the kids to see how they can affect their world," Langley said.
The evening started out with a concert, each grade group singing its own song in the Spanish language. Afterwards, everyone streamed out of the gymnasium and set up their mercado shops along the edges of the hallways. They stretched colorful blankets out on the floor, spreading out their wares. Those coming in to the school bought tickets, which could then be used to purchase various arts and crafts made by the students, as well as food, both dinner and snacks.
The temperature rose quickly in the hallway as lines went up to four or five people deep. Some students roamed up and down, shouting out their wares, while others sat cross-legged on their blankets and managed their ever-dwindling supplies.
"They're really into it," said Booka Smith, whose daughter Phoebe joined forces with her classmates Ali Moran and Scarlett Murphy. "They pooled their money and came up with their ideas."
The girls used duct tape to create their crafts - colorful bracelets, headbands and Frisbees, among other things. When her mother asked where she and her friends had come up with the idea for their items, Phoebe responded matter-of-factly, "Just out of our minds."
The variety of booths and sellers seemed to intrigue the students as well. Second-grader Jack Schierholz said his favorite part was, "The buying and the selling and seeing what everybody has to sell."
Fifth-grader Gracee Long held down a booth at the end of the hall and waxed thoughtful about the experience.
"Dr. PJ travels around the world to help people. I think it's good to raise money for that," she said, hardly pausing as she exchanged tickets for bracelets over the table. Her favorite part? "I like looking at other people's stuff," she said. "It's really cool to see what other people made or bought."
Langley said she would definitely classify this year's mercado as a success, with an approximate 600 peole in attendance.
"Our community is getting more diverse and it's bringing out people who might not otherwise come out. It's really bringing our community together," she said. As for the students, "They all set up, they all brought their own blankets. They did their own thing. I'm very proud of them."