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¡Unidos Venceremos! con El Tribe

By Arooj Ashraf, La Prensa Cleveland Correspondent

 

The Cleveland Indians celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM) at Progressive Field on Friday, Sept. 19, 2008, before beating the Detroit Tigers 6-5 in a feisty game.
 

The “¡Unidos Venceremos!” festivities at the Market Pavilion of Progressive Field included live music from DJ Danny Vey, salsa lessons from dance instructors from Viva Dance Studios, performances from Grupo Isla del Encanto folkloric dance team, and specialty food and drink items.

 

Joseph Santiago, City of Cleveland Ward 14 Councilman, led the parade of dancers, kids from the Roberto Clemente Baseball League around the stadium, waving flags from all Latin American countries.
 

Santiago said the collaboration with the Cleveland Indians is important to the Latino community and the team needs to be more visibly involved. “The Indians are doing a great thing by donating tickets to support the Spanish American Committee [SAC],” he said.

 

SAC sold 500 tickets or which $2 will benefit the organization that has been serving the Cleveland community for 42 years by providing essential social services like language courses, employment assistance, immigration resources, y más.

 

“We can not function without the generous donations,” said Frank Colón, Chairman of the Board, SAC. The Committee is relocating to a new building on West 25th and Clark Ave. and will be adding to its 45 member staff to better meet the growing demands.

 

Lucy Torres was the designated first pitcher for the evening. “I haven’t pitched a ball in more than 35 years,” she said before pitching a swift ball to the Indians’ catcher. Torres is the Hispanic Liaison to the Mayor of Cleveland, Frank Jackson. She said the celebration at Progressive Field is a wonderful opportunity to increase the visibility of the Latino community and to establish stronger bonds by displaying the rich culture.

 

“It is great to share our heritage with people and show them we have the same values,” she said. Torres said the Cleveland communities need to integrate, share resources, knowledge and collectively address challenges like education, poverty, and immigration—to make the city one.


Santiago said the pre-games celebrations are exciting and delightful place to bring together families. “The kids love it, and us big kids enjoy it too,” he said. His nieces danced merrily among the Grupo Isla del Encanto Dance troupe, which Santiago sponsors. Grupo Isla del Encanto is dedicated to teaching children traditional dances.
 

Santiago said this event will continue to grow each year. “The Indians can be more out there in supporting the community … my wish is to one day bring all the poor kids who never get to see them play down here (Progressive Field),” he said.

 

“¡Unidos Venceremos!” was the second official event celebrating HHM that began at City Hall with Puerto Rico Senate President Kenneth D. McClintock-Hernández as the keynote speaker. Cleveland State University, the Cleveland Art Museum, and Club San Lorenzo will be hosting special events through Oct. 15.

 

Colón credited Torres for promoting the event and building strong relationships within the city, “She is the best connection we have at City Hall.” He said SAC serves 50-60 people daily, and served more than 10,000 individuals last year. “We don’t care what kind of problem, we solve it,” Colón said, adding that the organization’s services are more crucial in a declining economy, especially in assisting the unemployed.


This years Roberto Clemente Award was presented to Grady Sizemore for his contributions to the community, sportsmanship, and positive contributions to his team. As ambassador for Cleveland Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI), Grady donated his time and playing expertise to the 1,000 youth participants within the RBI 1st Pitch event; a baseball and health clinic, held at Progressive Field in June.
 

The numerous community activities Sizemore has volunteered his time for in 2008 include: Dick’s Sporting Goods “Shop with a Pro,” an event where local Boy & Girls Club members team up with players to then go shopping; Equipment Drive for the Baseball Tomorrow Fund; and the Hall of Fame Celebration.

 

The event was sponsored by: the City of Cleveland, Spanish American Committee, the Roberto Clemente Baseball League, La Prensa, and El Sol de Cleveland.

   

  

   
   
   

 

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