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La Liga de Las Americas

Latin American Planning & Development Committee hosts masquerade ball Oct. 22 at Emporium


By Alan Abrams
La Prensa Senior Correspondent


Buoyed by the success of last year’s premiere event, the Latin American Planning & Development Committee (LAPDC) is coming back for an encore.

The group, whose vision is responsible for the innovative Seven Visions beautification project for Toledo’s Old South End, is holding its major fundraising event Sat. Oct. 22 from 6:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. at The Emporium, located at 25 S. Huron Street, in the Warehouse District near downtown.

David Escobedo’s doll for 2004 LAPDC Ball

What makes this event so unique is that it is a masquerade ball, explains Charles Sarabia, the veteran community activist and promoter, who is the executive director of the organization. So if you needed an excuse to dress up in a Halloween costume, this is what you’ve been waiting for to happen.


Sarabia promises there will be lots of entertainment, ranging from The Smith Group jazz ensemble to the talented DJ La Chula. “We’re also going to have a country and western singer, a comedy act, some improv and karaoke. Admission is $15 per person, $25 for couples, and there is a special senior’s rate of $5,” says Sarabia.


David Escobedo of Mesa, Arizona, known internationally as the renowned designer D.A.E. and whose dolls are famous and highly sought after throughout the world, will show his exclusive designs created for the masquerade ball, adds Sarabia.


Sarabia, who chaired the South End Mexican-American festivals (MAFA) for some ten years, from 1979 into the 1980s, and whose group was responsible for raising the first Mexican flag at International Plaza, says the timeframe for the completion of all phases of the Seven Visions program is ten to twenty years. But without implementation of ideas and concepts such as his, the area may further stagnate during that period.

Charles Sarabia

The initial phase of the Seven Visions concept consists of a flower and sculpture bed in front of the MLK, Jr. Train Station. The sculpture is designed by Robert García, the well-known artist who painted the mural at the Aurora González Community and Family Resource Center, near the Anthony Wayne Trail and South Avenue. García has just completed a spectacular mural at the Birmingham Branch Library.


Vision Two calls for a mosaic picture to serve as a historical gateway to the Old South End. This would depict the history of the South Side community, including the early settlers, the German, Irish, Swiss, and Latino residents, the Toledo Zoo, Walbridge Park and the amusement park, the rivers, churches and the canals built by Irish laborers. Three pillars will represent the ethnic diversity of the community.


The Third Vision encompasses creation of a Heritage Park Plaza (or, hopefully, Judge Joseph Flores Plaza) with a large Spanish fountain.


Vision Four is that of a senior retreat housing center, a multi-level senior complex.


The fifth Vision entails painting a Toledo Zoo mural on the railroad bridge/viaduct on South Broadway.


There are three elements to the sixth Vision and all relate to transportation.  The first would create pedestrian promenade walks along the banks of the Maumee River to the center of the city. The pedestrian walks would also accommodate bikes, roller blades, and motor scooters.

Photo from last year's Ball

The second phase would develop a train loop from Fifth Third Field to the Toledo Zoo along the Maumee River. The third element would see the completion of a Swan Creek River Walk connecting Owens Corning headquarters and Fifth Third Field and points between such as the Erie Street Market, Farmer’s Market and the Oliver House to the train station.  The concept would be similar to San Antonio’s highly successful River Walk [www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com]. 

The most ambitious Vision is the seventh, which would see a commercial shopping district erected, anchored by two high-rise hotels adjacent to I-75.


Over-ambitious? Far-fetched? Unrealistic? Not if you consider that Sarabia earned his visionary stripes when he was still an employee of the city of Toledo’s Department of Natural Resources. He says he was part of a team responsible for urban beautification projects once considered as improbable as the Seven Visions, but now taken for granted by generations of Toledoans.


Sarabia says these included: lighting of the MLK, Jr. and High Level Bridges, creating the concepts for International Park and Promenade Park, moving the fireworks from Walbridge Park to downtown Toledo, and holding the first New Year’s Eve gala in Levis Park.


A member of one of Toledo’s first Latino familias, he still lives in the Old South End, unlike many other community activists. He knows first hand what issues are facing the neighborhood and its residents. And he has clearly done his homework when it comes to knowing and recognizing the contributions of other ethnic cultures to the community.


Although the Seven Visions concept has been widely heralded, the organization behind the Visions has been fighting an uphill battle to bring the dream to reality. While Sarabia has an impressive portfolio of letters of support from political and civic leaders and business owners, the LAPDC is not as visible or known as other Old South End players, such as: UT and the Hispanic Affairs Commission’s Hispanic/Latino Strategic Alliance of Greater Toledo [http://uac.utoledo.edu/Services/hc-rfp.htm], Adelante Inc., Northwest Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC), Sofia Quintero Arts & Cultural Center, The Twelve, Inc., Viva South and Aurora González Community & Family Resource Center.


But, according to Sarabia, “The LAPDC looks forward to working with all of these fine groups, to benefit the community at large.”





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