Dominicans celebrate independence day

ROCHESTER — A deluge may have struck the Dominican Family Day last month at Brown’s Square Park, but organizers stuck to an old show-business adage: The show must go on.

Andy Duran, one of the coordinators of the fifth-annual event, said that he and fellow members of the Hermandad Social Cultural Dominicana scrambled to find another venue for the lineup of local bands they had scheduled to perform on Aug. 14. The event moved to a former nightclub nearby, he said. About 200 people — who had received alerts of the location change through phone calls and Facebook postings — were in attendance, Duran added.

"All of the bands played," Duran noted. "At least we did something."

Next year, the committee will confirm an alternate venue ahead of time in case Mother Nature decides not to cooperate, as has been the case for the past two years. Last year’s rain and mugginess, Duran noted, could not compare to the torrential downpour that struck about 3 p.m. as the small group of people that had gathered at Brown’s Square for Family Day ran for their cars to wait out the storm.

Sound equipment for the opening ceremony and musical performances to follow had been covered just prior to the heavy rainfall because of the sounds of thunder and the sight of lightning flashing all around the park.

Duran said that the group also hopes to bring in a more well-known musical act next year that he hopes will be a bigger draw and boost attendance for the event.

The Hermandad committee plans the annual Family Day around the Aug. 16 celebration of the island’s Restoration Day, which commemorates when the Dominican Republic became independent from Spain in 1863.

On the island, the date is a national holiday with parades, festivals and carnivals celebrated by thousands of people, said Hector Ortiz, who moved to Rochester from Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic’s capital, in 1974.

The Family Day committee moved the event to Brown’s Square Park three years ago from Seneca Park because the crowds in attendance were growing, explained Edy Marlin, committee chairman. The committee wants to meet and get to know new Dominican families as they move to the area and the population continues to grow, as well as share the culture with other people in Rochester, he added.

"What we area really trying to do is unite Dominicans living here in Rochester," he said.

The growth of the population also is evident with the growing number of Dominican restaurants from Irondequoit to Henrietta, festivalgoers said.

"It’s contagious," joked Elizardo Pardo, one of the owners of "3" Latino restaurant, about how new places keep opening up.

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