Latino culture honored during Hispanic Heritage Month events
By Annette Jiménez/EMC
This year’s Hispanic Heritage Month will kick off with a performance from the “In the Heights” cast at Rochester City Hall.
The cast from the show, which is opening Geva Theatre Center’s fall season, will perform a short scene Sept. 15 outside of City Hall steps on the corner of Church and North Fitzhugh streets, explained Johanna Santiago, chairwoman of the city’s Hispanic Heritage Committee.
“This year, we are trying something different … a little bit of new things here and there,” she said.
While the traditional unfurling of Latin American flags won’t be included in the program, the inaugural Hispanic Heritage Month festivities will include a food truck vendor and other local performers, Santiago added.
The city has several other community events planned, including a golf tournament to raise funds for a college scholarship, an evening to honor local two abuelitos (grandparents) — Wilfredo Colon Antonetti and Liduvina Burgos — and such youth events as a college fair. This year’s theme is “Exhibiendo Nuestros Tesoros Culturales” (Showcasing our Cultural Treasures).
An Oct. 5 youth gala at the Stardust Ballroom at the Edgerton Recreation Center will offer an opportunity for young Latinos to dress up and learn about the culture, Santiago said. A guest speaker during the gala will serve to motivate and inspire the youths, she said, and several city officials will be on hand to interact with them.
A “Rise Up Latinos” event on Oct. 12 at the Port of Rochester also is designed to motivate participants, Santiago said, and will provide information on health, education and domestic violence. Two individuals were to receive a makeover as part of that day’s activities, which is a new feature of the third-annual event, she said.
Rochester Intitute of Technology planned a Sept. 14 kick-off event at its Global Village — an area on campus with housing and international restaurants — and a speaker series. After the kick-off event, activist Taina Asili will speak about Puerto Rico and climate change, added Stephanie Paredes, multicultural program manager for RIT’s division of diversity and inclusion.
Asili “has a workshop talking (about) how music and art effect change and how you can do that,” Paredes said.
The Memorial Art Gallery will present the 14th-annual Hispanic/Latino Heritage Family Day on Oct. 8. Its theme is “Embracing Diversity,” said Debora McDell-Hernández, the gallery’s engagement manager.
Peru will receive the spotlight during this year’s event, she said.
“The community isn’t huge, but it’s a pretty significant community,” McDell-Hernández added.
About 150 Peruvians live in the Rochester area, said Consuelo Sofia Lee, who is heading up the group working on a presentation about the country.
“We are going to talk about our origin, our traditions, our typical foods, our music (and) our people,” she explained.
The group will perform traditional dances including one called valiche that originated in Cuzco, Lee added. And the “powerful” poem “Me Gritaron Negra” by Victoria Santa Cruz will be recited, noted McDell-Hernández.
Children’s activities during the event will include a craft from Peru as well, she said.
A quasi-fashion show will showcase fokloric traditions from several other countries, McDell-Hernández added. The day’s closing segment will include performances by local musicians and arts groups including Borinquen Dance Theatre, Latinos de Corazón and Rochester Latino Theatre Co.
New elements this year include a presentation by members of Centro de Oro, Ibero-American Action League’s center for senior citizens, and a dance workshop to be presented by Essence of Rhythm Latin Dance Co.
“People can learn salsa, merengüe and bachata,” McDell-Hernández said.