EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 16, 2013

Collins Center hosts India Day

Celebration moved from Hatch Shell to Andover

By Dustin Luca
dluca@eagletribune.com

---- — ANDOVER — A popular yearly Indian celebration is relocating to Andover this year after the cost to continue in Boston became too high a price to pay.

The India Association of Greater Boston’s annual India Day, celebrating India’s independence from British colonial rule, will run out of Andover High School’s Collins Center on Sunday, Sept. 8 from 4 to 8 p.m.

The four-hour program features Indian classical songs, dances, folk dances, vendor tables and more, according to organization Director Zehra Khan.

Originally scheduled for this Sunday, Aug. 18 at the Esplanade’s Hatch Memorial Shell, the event was cancelled earlier this month after the organization learned that beefed up security-related costs around Boston landmarks have jumped in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, according to organization President Amrit Soni.

The event has been a Boston hallmark for more than two decades. Continuing this year would have cost the non-profit organization more than $20,000 this year, Khan said.

“This is the first time we’ve had the event outside of the Hatch Shell in many years,” Khan said.

The event has run out of the Hatch Shell for so long because attendance typically exceeds 10,000 and the outdoor, Esplanade environment proved perfect for the crowd, according to Khan.

The move to Andover was a product of the town’s accessibility throughout the region, with two major New England interstates — routes 93 and 495 — running through the core of Andover, Khan said.

“They come not just from the Boston area, but I’ve met people coming in from New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island. People do come from far and wide,” she said. “This is the first time we’ve had the event outside of the Hatch Shell in many years.”

The Collins Center, located on the far end of Andover High School on Shawsheen Road, is an auditorium designed to handle just north of 1,200 people at full occupancy. It is typically a hot ticket for youth arts and entertainment performances, medium-sized town events and low-participation Town Meeting nights, though other organizations around town have used it in the past.

Khan said she couldn’t forecast how the venue would handle the event, especially with its traditionally high draw, but “we’ll find out pretty soon what it’s going to be like,” she said. “This is a smaller event. The program itself is going to be the same.”

The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.iagb.org.