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People supporting Buffalo’s unity and diversity are asked to turn out Saturday to create a human chain the entire length of Ferry Street, both the east and west stretches, from Bailey Avenue to Niagara Street.

Organizers estimate 7,000 people will be needed to cover the 4.4-mile length, an effort to demonstrate the community’s unity and diversity called Hands Across Buffalo. The forecast calls for pleasant weather, so hopes run high for the event at 11 a.m. Saturday.

“This particular event is an expression of how we are all connected,” said Renita Shadwick of the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, a sponsor.

The gesture was the inspiration of Dale Zuchlewski, executive director of the Homeless Alliance of Western New York.

He said organizers hope to recreate locally the experience of the original Hands Across America demonstration in 1986, which also was intended to draw attention to people’s common needs for food, housing and education.

About 3,500 people have already registered to participate. Registration is not necessary and there is no fee to join in.

“It is all absolutely free,” said Zuchlewski, a former Common Council member. “Just show up on Ferry Street at about 10 a.m.”

Volunteers in orange vests will hand out buttons and help people line up. The welcome kickoff will begin at 10:30 a.m. in front of the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. The plan is to hold the chain for 15 minutes beginning at 11 a.m. while the event is streamed live nationally at handsacrossbuffalo.com.

After the chain breaks, people are invited to join in any of the many workshops, performances and open houses to be held along the route to celebrate the event. Locations include the Vive Open House at 50 Wyoming Ave.; “We are Women Warriors” at Frank E. Merriweather Library, 1324 Jefferson Ave., with African drumming, poetry reading and a DVD screening; art exhibits and performances at the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, Masten Avenue at East Ferry Street; a “Dialogue on Diversity” at H.O.M.E., 1542 Main and Ferry; salsa dancing lessons at the West Side Bazaar, 25 Grant St., south of West Ferry; and performances at the Richmond Ferry Church, with the Slyboots Drum Ensemble.

For a complete list of workshops, locations and places to park, go to handsacrossbuffalo.com.

email: mmiller@buffnews.com