When the Freeport Memorial Library celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s much more than books and posters. The 20th annual event last Sunday immersed attendees in the culture, with food, dancing and festivities.
Hispanic Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 celebrating the history, cultures and accomplishments of Americans with ancestors in Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America and South America.
The library has hosted a variety of cultural events in recent years, including Hispanic book fairs, musical performances, and informative lectures.
This year, Danfosal of NY Foundation dancers entertained visitors with folk dancing. There was plenty of genuine cultural cuisine compliments of local restaurants.
State Sen. Kevin Thomas attended the event to express his appreciation to the diverse Freeport community. “This is a growing community here on Long Island, and I am so proud to represent all of them,” said Thomas.
Thomas, who is East Asian, emphasized the importance of Long Island’s multicultural community.
“Immigrants make up what we have here in America,” Tho-mas said. “This diversity makes us stronger, and we can see how all of us come together from different parts of the world to make New York better and our communities better.
“The community here, especially those who identify as Hispanic, this is what we need to celebrate. Between the culture and the food and everything that comes with it, because all of us are immigrants who came here, we live here in this new area, but we still want to celebrate what we did back home.”
Thomas presented certificates to the local restaurants who provided meals for the event.
Backyard Barbecue, Taco Tuesday, Mi Casa, and Rincon Latino Restaurant were among the local restaurants contributing food to the event. They provided a variety of ethnic foods such as empanadas, beans with rice, collard greens, and numerous other dishes.
“Senator Thomas wanted to give a proclamation for all of their service in the community and especially be recognized during Hispanic Heritage Month. So, I think that was really beautiful,” said head of community services Maryellen Cantanno.
The Danfosal of NY Foundation dancers performed at the library captivating the audience with choreographed dance routines set to multicultural music.
The mission of the Danfosal of NY Foundation is to create a platform for learning, discipline, and values in the Hispanic community of Long Island and New York, particularly the Central American. This is done by contributing to the dissemination and promotion of culture through dance, with an emphasis on inclusion and diversity.
Fifth-grader Litzy Salgado, a member of the Danfosal of NY Foundation, shared her perspective on what it means to dance as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.
“We like to dance because it’s fun to teach everybody about our culture and all that stuff, what different kinds of colors they represent, how the culture dances, what music they listen to and all that amazing stuff,” Salgado said.
Litzy originally became involved with the Danfosal of NY Foundation through modeling jobs, which allowed her to meet her future dance instructor and eventually led to her start to dance with the organization.
“It’s really special to me because I have a lot of passion for doing the dances and routines. I enjoy dancing, the groups are amazing, the teachers are amazing. It’s a lot of fun to dance,” said Salgado.
Several more culturally-oriented programs are planned at the library for Hispanic Heritage Month. An educational seminar titled “Intercultural Competence: Myths and Realities of Latin American Traditional Medicine” is set for Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. This session will be delivered by Mara José Souto-Portas of Molly University encouraging participants to discover how traditional medicine is a vital part of Latin American culture and how it might potentially coexist with modern pharmaceuticals to enhance health care interaction.
“For instance, I would never think to eat much Turmeric in my life, unless I had somebody in the community who knows that from growing up with their Latin heritage tell me that. I would go and grab a Tylenol or go get a Benadryl,” said Cantanno, “They have different resources that are more natural, and they’ve been growing up. That’s been their heritage.”
The library is hosting “Foreign Film and Book Discussion” Oct. 7 at 6:30 p.m. Enrique M. Bogo, the chair of Molloy University’s department of Languages and Cultures, is leading the discussion following the viewing of the films “The Sea Inside” and “Mar Adentro.”