Saturday, May 18, 2024

Lansing celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

September 26, 2023
The Hispanic Heritage Festival was on Sept. 23, 2023 in downtown Lansing.
The Hispanic Heritage Festival was on Sept. 23, 2023 in downtown Lansing.

As the sun went down on Saturday night, the streets of downtown Lansing lit up with music, dancing, entertainment and individuals from all different backgrounds gathered to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

 This past Saturday, Lansing commemorated Hispanic Heritage Month with their first “Taste of Hispanic Heritage Festival," with the help of 517 Hispanic Heritage and Our Space 517, an organization that promotes diverse entertainment and business opportunities

The street was lined with food trucks highlighting unique foods from an array of countries.

 One of the busiest trucks all night was Taqueria Monarca, an authentic Mexican restaurant run by Ana Maria Cavazos-Lugo and Mario Quintero Bello. Their menu consisted of well-loved, traditional food such as burrito bowls and gorditas. The popular family-owned business was lined up throughout the night

“The food, the costumes, the dances that were being presented, the music, our language," Cavazos-Lugo said about her favorite part of the festival.

Cavazos-Lugo said she was delighted to see people enjoying food across Hispanic culture with roots in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Peru and Cuba

The festival wasn’t just limited to food; it also offered live music, dancing, an art installation and many Hispanic-owned business vendors

“I have truly enjoyed being involved with 517 Hispanic Heritage and Our Space 517," Julieanna Loperena-Inman, the owner of Massage Therapy with Julieanna, said. "It has been an amazing experience to showcase my culture and my business in the company of other Hispanic cultures and businesses.”

Loperena-Inman offered free massages to those at the festival. While offering her services, she had thoughtful conversations about things such as her heritage and her business’ start-up. The festival offered her the opportunity to connect with others and spread her culture within the community.

Another business that was buzzing all night was the Nelson Gallery. To celebrate the festival, Nelson Gallery showed some panels of murals created by Muralmatics with the help of LAFCU. The theme of the murals was “financial empowerment." 

With vivid colors reminiscent of traditional Hispanic attire, the murals offered a reflective piece for festival goers to examine.

This festival established Lansing’s growing interest and celebration of Hispanic culture and for many MSU students, it meant growth

“For a long time, I tried to diminish my heritage from my identity, but through a lot of work it is now something I proudly embrace," pre-vet and zoology freshman Evelina Dean said. "The Lansing area serves my culture by providing more diversity than what I grew up around.” 

Events such as these in Lansing offer the ability for students to keep in touch with their roots while away from home. It also opens the door for non-Hispanic students to educate themselves more about other cultures, social relations and policy freshman Marisol Macias said

“My favorite part of the month has been seeing parts of my culture ... come to life in areas where I don't always expect," Macias said. "It's like a little piece of me is floating around saying that where I come from is important.”  

The entire weekend, Lansing had unique events to educate and celebrate Hispanic culture. On Friday night, Lansing hosted the Hispanic Heritage Dance Class and Mixer where people from all different cultures came together to learn different Hispanic dances.

On Sunday evening, Lansing hosted a Latin Jazz Night with a live band, Orquesta Ritmo, providing entertainment

This weekend was the first step towards the celebration and education of cultures across the world, Cavazos-Lugo said

“What makes this activity stand out for the first time is that the organizers managed to unite many people for the first time in the city of Lansing, uniting us as a community and sharing for the first time our roots, music, food and remembering our identity and Hispanic heritage," Cavazos-Lugo said

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