There may be a pandemic, but the Tri-Cities Puentes Initiative
is looking to build on last year’s hugely successful Grand Haven Hispanic Heritage Fiesta — safely.
The initiative, itself, grew out of the 2019 celebration of Hispanic culture in the Tri-Cities that drew 3,000 people.
“People seem to be hungry to celebrate diversity, a place where they can see themselves represented,” festival co-chair Reyna Masko says.
The week-long Fiesta
(Monday, Sept. 21 – Saturday, Sept. 26) will maintain social distancing and follow health guidelines as it still highlights Latin American cultures in all their rich variety.
“It is even more important that we find safe and responsible ways to celebrate the Hispanic heritage and culture of the Tri-
Cities area during Hispanic Heritage Month this year,” the group’s website states.
The Tri-Cities Puentes Initiative hopes to use the festival to build bridges (puentes is Spanish for bridge) in the community.
The festival is just one way the new nonprofit hopes to raise awareness while raising up Hispanic leaders in West Michigan, especially youth.
“The Hispanic community is here; they are a part of this community,” Masko says.
Each year, Fiesta will partner with a community organization. Last year, the festival raised $5,000 for the Migrant Resource
Council. This year’s partner is Lighthouse Immigrant Advocates.
Although this year’s festival will be mostly virtual, organizers are working hard to make sure people feel a part of it whether they are dancing in their homes or ordering takeout from a partner restaurant.
A dozen different restaurants
will choose a country whose cuisine they want to showcase with a special appetizer, entrée, dessert, and drink during Hispanic Heritage Restaurant Week. A portion of the sales will be donated to TCPI. Whichever restaurant generated the most donations for TCPI will be crowned the 2020 Hispanic/Latinx Cuisine winner.
Each night, the TCPI will highlight a film of relevance to Latinx history and culture for the virtual Hispanic Heritage Film Festival
. Families, individuals, and small groups can watch the recommended film at home and then participate in a Zoom discussion on the film at 8 p.m. each night. The children’s film, The Book of Life, is set for Saturday, Sept. 26, with a Zoom discussion at 4 p.m. Registration is on the website and the group’s Facebook page
“We will pay tribute to the generations of Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society—particularly the Tri-Cities area,” the website says.
Each night during the week, TCPI will post a short video with instruction on a Latin American dance routine for Virtual Dance Night. People will be invited to participate in their own homes and learn some great traditional Latin American dances. The videos will be live on the group’s Facebook page.
The Hispanic Heritage Virtual Mercado will highlight area businesses and their products with videos on the TCPI website. A portion of the profits will go back to TCPI.
The week will be capped off with Hispanic Heritage Food Truck Weekend on Saturday, Sept. 26, with Latin American and/or Hispanic food trucks 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. in the Ottawa County Courthouse parking lot, 414 Washington Ave.
Students from Latin Americans United for Progress’ Adelante youth program will kick off the morning at 10:45 a.m. with a flag ceremony representing flags from Hispanic countries in Central Park, at the corner of Washington Avenue and South 5th Street. The Holland-based LAUP has also had a Fiesta every May for decades.
Supporters can text “fiesta” to 40403 to donate, and T-shirts will be for sale Saturday at the welcome booth, also located in the county parking lot.
“Although Grand Haven itself is not very diverse, there is diversity in Grand Haven that is not seen, is not highlighted,” Masko says, “but we’re here and we wanted our community members to know that we value them and we celebrate them.”
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