Latinos en Evanston North Shore hosts Celebración de la Herencia Hispana for Hispanic Heritage Month


Photo courtesy of Mercedes Fernández

Volunteers at the Celebración de la Herencia Hispana event register attendees with sorteo, or giveaway. Attendees could also register for programs within Latinos en Evanston North Shore, like Los Años Dorados.

Katrina Pham, Assistant City Editor

Evanston residents and community members celebrated among the vibrant reds, yellows and greens of traditional Mexican clothing and papel picados for Sunday’s Celebración de la Herencia Hispana at James Park.

The event celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month was organized by Latinos en Evanston North Shore, a grassroots non-profit. LENS vice president Fabiola Alfonso said uniting the local Latine population is one of her organization’s key missions.

“We are trying to make a community,” Alfonso said. “We want Latinos to proudly celebrate their heritage.”

Alfonso said hosting the celebration and sharing elements of culture like food, song and dance is part of another LENS goal: cultural celebration. 

The celebration is not limited to Mexican culture, but is meant to honor the traditions of a variety of Hispanic backgrounds, reflecting the board that is made up of members from Mexico, Peru and Honduras.

More than 250 free tamales were given out to attendees, who had the opportunity to listen to local solo mariachi singer Arnulfo Cardenas perform live music. They could also take pictures with Latine members of Evanston Police Department, who allowed attendees to look inside their squad car. 

Attendees also had the opportunity to play the lotería (lottery) and the sorteo (a giveaway). Some even sported cultural clothing for the best tipal outfit competition.

Evanston resident Ana Cruz was dressed head to toe in traditional Mexican clothing, wearing a sombrero and a china poblana, a traditional Mexican dress.

Cruz, who is from Mexico City, said she was excited to attend and participate in the event.

“I really appreciate the traditions of Mexico,” Cruz said. “I love the culture, singing and dancing.”

The opportunity to connect with the local community was also exciting for Mercedes Fernández, president of LENS.

“We don’t care if it’s 20, 30, 50 (people),” Fernández said. “The people who came are enjoying music, costumes, and this is really what makes today spectacular.”

Residents of all ages came to the event. City Clerk Stephanie Mendoza said she was happy to see the event was hosted completely in Spanish, since that meant she could bring her grandparents and in-laws as well as her husband and kids.

For Mendoza, it was important her children attended. Growing up, Mendoza said she didn’t have the opportunity to connect with her heritage or celebrate her culture, and now she wants to expose her kids to opportunities she didn’t have.

Mendoza said although the event specifically celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month, she hopes Evanston residents will have more formal opportunities to celebrate the Latine community in the future.

“I don’t stop being Latino tomorrow or at the 15th of October,” Mendoza said. “It’s nice to be able to go somewhere and see myself reflected in the community events.”

Alongside LENS members, community volunteers helped serve dishes and run booths at the event.

Evanston resident and event volunteer Rocio Mancera said connecting with others of a similar background is important.

“Because we are brothers and brothers, sisters and sisters, it’s very important to (be together) hand in hand,” Mancera said.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated that the Celebración de la Herencia Hispana event was also organized by Latinx Business Alliance and underestimated the number of attendees. The event was organized solely by Latinos en Evanston North Shore and more than 250 tamales were given away to attendees. The previous version misstated the spelling of a volunteer’s name. It also misspelled the Spanish word “sorteo.” The Daily is committed to serving the communities we cover and equipping staff to report and edit sensitively and accurately. The Daily regrets the errors.

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Twitter: @KatrinaPham_

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