POUGHKEEPSIE – There are 35 million American citizens of Mexican heritage.
They are a vital contributing economic and social force in this country. That influence could be seen throughout Poughkeepsie’s Waryas Park Sunday, where thousands came together to celebrate the 8th Annual Guelaguetza 2016. Once again, the popular event was well-attended, serving a meaningful day of education, fun and special cultural traditions.
An annual cultural celebration held in the city of Oaxaca de Juarez, Capital of the Mexican state of Oaxaca, along with area towns, The Guelaguetza (interpreted as the “reciprocal exchanges of gifts and services”) is typically held on the two Mondays closest to July 16, celebrating Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Folklore groups from the State’s eight regions, sport colorful costumes, depicting pivotal, regional traditions. It’s that deep, cultural signifigance and spirit that Sunday’s organizers were aiming to emphasize during the day’s festivities.
“We try to strengthen our local community and to bring socio-economic strength, support and unity to the City of Poughkeepsie,” stressed Gabriela Owen, one of the organizers of the event.
In fact, that collaborative commitment is so vital that the Consulate General of Mexico in New York (Ambassador in support of the United States) was on hand at this year’s celebration. Diego Gomez Pickering joined in at La Guelaguetza 2016, offering his powerful presence as well as a message of working together for all.
“I’m here today because the Mexican-American community in New York state is growing stronger over the last two decades; Mexicans bring a great set of values to help build New York to be stronger,” said Gomez Pickering. “In addition, they embrace core values of the American Constitution and society, making it an even better one; it is so important for us to stand together and make our voices heard.”
Those voices rang loudly, as about 25 key people and agencies lent support at La Guelagutza 2016. Among them were; Community Family Development, La Super Latina FM Radio, Mole Mole Restaurante, and Prime Print Shop. Also on hand was Juntos Por la Salud, Coalician Mexicana and Ventanilla de Salud, collaborators with the Mexican Consulate.
“We are here today trying to provide free health services to the Mexican community,” said Maritsa Osorio of Coalician Mexicana. “I love the place here; the view, foods, people, and music all really help to bring the Mexican culture alive; we truly hope we can serve the Mexican community the way they deserve to be served.”
All the hard work and dedication to working with the Poughkeepsie community appeared to pay off. Many could be spotted throughout Waryas Park smiling, laughing, dancing, and reveling in the unique heritage and talents of the Mexican people.
“This is a really nice event. lots of colors, good food; I had a delicious tamale, and really good people,” said Mike Hernandez of New Windsor. I’ve learned a lot just walking around and observing here today, great place to spend the afternoon.”
Yet another happy participant in the day was Marisol Guzman, who was working at a booth for MVP Health Insurance. The Newburgh resident was attending her third La Guelaguetza at the Poughkeespie Waterfront.
“I like the fact that they (the Mexicans) are bringing their roots here, so the younger generation can know where they come from,” said Guzman as she loaded up some free give-away bags of goodies. “They get a real taste of their food, clothing, music and so much more.”
Mariel Fiori, the Managing Editor of La Voz, could be seen welcoming people into the event. All smiles, Fiori, could not have been more pleased to see such a deeply meaningful cultural celebration take place in Poughkeepsie.
“It makes me happy to be a part of such festivities in the heart of the Hudson Valley,” exclaimed Fiori. “It’s where so many Latinos choose to live, so it couldn’t be a better place to have such a joyous time.”