Quick -- name one thing this country stands for. Does the First Amendment come to mind? In a terror-stricken world regressing to dogmatic cultural conservatism, the ideals of freedom and tolerance need to be shouted from the proverbial mountaintops. But if you live in the flatlands of South Florida, all you need to do is join the (Muslim, Hindu, Wiccan, Christian, and Freemason) voices already singing at this year's "Religious Freedom Festival," taking place today at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fort Lauderdale (3970 NW 21st St., Oakland Park).
The church espouses the general philosophy of "different people, different beliefs, one faith." The festival's speakers include Democratic Party spokeswoman Jan O'Rourke, on "Freedom of Religion"; author Bob Waxman, on "The Shekinah" and "The Tree of Life"; and Mary Mena Fernandez on "The Mantra for the New Millennium." And don't forget your circle drums! Listen to Native American storytelling; boogie to the music of Silverbranch, Lady Bridget & the Belladonnas, and Warband; register to vote; participate in tarot readings; or just relax and party with people who believe, most of all, in brotherly and sisterly love. The festival lasts from noon until 11 p.m. Admission costs $10, free for children under 12. Call 954-471-1435. --John Shannon
... is cooking in Latin America?
You know that Latinos make a mean fried plantain and can salsa-dance you all the way into hiding. But do you know they're also fine makers of jewelry, textiles, software, and telecommunications equipment? Such goods will be on display from Friday through Sunday, amid 250 booths at the "Expo Broward Hispanic Fair" at the Broward Convention Center (1950 Eisenhower Blvd., Fort Lauderdale). Check out, for instance, the wooden doors made by Tummy Wood Products from Peru. Presented by the Colombian Chamber of Commerce of Broward County, this event is designed to spur trade between Latin America and the U.S., which, last time we counted, had some 35 million Spanish speakers. Funds collected through the $1 admission fee will be donated to an organization that plans to build homes for 3,500 single mothers in Colombia. Call 954-584-0754, or visit www.colombiaflusa.org. --Deirdra Funcheon
Is That a Cue Ball in Your Pocket?
Or are you just happy to see this?
If you're single, it doesn't matter whether you suck or rule at pool. Either way, you'll benefit from the professional instruction during Rotational Billiards Night at the World Famous Sports Café and Billiards (600 N. Congress Ave., Delray Beach). While learning how to play three or four variations of the game, rotating teams, and meeting new people, you and your prospective sweetie can sip domestic beers and debate whether the café is really all that famous. Research it later, during your honeymoon around the world. The event costs $19, cheaper if you sign up for a pass that gets you into numerous unique networking events. Call 954-663-2759, or visit www.socialfusion.com. --Deirdra Funcheon
Watching the news, one gets the impression that every inch of Israel is a war zone. But there is life -- and culture -- outside the violence. The Israel Scouts Friendship Caravan, a group of Israeli teens who play big band-style music, brings that culture to Old School Square (51 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach). The free performance begins at 7 p.m. Call 561-243-7922. -- Jason Budjinski