It was a celebration with a Latin twist. East Valley residents and visitors filled the lawn Saturday night at Scottsdale’s Civic Center Mall to watch costumed singers and dancers take the stage at the fifth annual Hispanic Heritage Community Celebration.
The event, sponsored by Scottsdale’s Human Relations Commission, in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, had something for everyone.
Through song and dance, attendees got to travel the world without ever leaving their lawn chairs to learn about the culture of the 21 Latin countries that were represented.
“People will get to see a medley of Latin style dances such as merengue, salsa and quedradita,” said one of the evening’s performers, Vanessa Lupercio, who teaches zumba Latin dance classes at Dance Dynamix in Chandler.
Some attendees said they came specifically for the music.
“We came to see the mariachi band,” said Wally Dilligaf of north Scottsdale who brought along his daughters, Silvana and Francesca.
The family said they attended the festival once before and returned Saturday night to enjoy the music.
“We’ve always loved their music and culture,” said first-time attendee Mike Foley of Scottsdale, who sampled an Ecuadorean-style pork and hominy dish with his wife, Barbara, as they watched a Mayan dance.
Others said they came to celebrate their own Hispanic ancestry.
Refugio Aviles, 29, of Scottsdale, who was watching the performances with his daughter Yamilex, 7, and son Aaron, 9, said they came “for a family night” out, while his wife,
Lorena, was cooking at one of the event’s many food booths.
“It’s important for Hispanics as well as non-Hispanics to take pride in their
heritage,” said Gloria Wendt of Chandler.
Wendt’s brother, Frank Beltran, also of Chandler, said it’s important that people of all backgrounds learn to appreciate one another.
“We’ve become a global environment with all kinds of ethnic groups,” Beltran said. “It’s important for Hispanic children to experience their heritage and non-Hispanic children to learn about it at a young age.
“We need to start a new generation of people intermingling with each other.”