The festival was planned as part of planned as part of the Metro Parks’ “Music Under the Stars” concert series, with the hope it would draw more residents and allow CHIP to better put Latino heritage on display to those who many not be familiar with the culture. Hispanic Heritage Month is observed nationally from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
According to Carrion, more than 1,000 people showed up to enjoy Latino cuisine, music, and dance. Jewels Charlton sang the national anthem, while Danza Azteca Tonantzin del Sagrado Corazón, Danza de los Viejitos, the Latin Jazz Players, Raices de Perú (Cleveland), Esencia Boricua Cultural de Lorain, José “Pepe” Rivera, and Sammy DeLeón y su Orquestra entertained the crowd.
Rivera is considered a “local legend” within Lorain’s Latino community, who played a 10-string guitar unique to Puerto Rico at the festival.
“The focus was to connect with dancers, musicians, and vendors that represent the many different Hispanic regions and cultures,” said Carrion. “The focus of the event is to share the richness of the Latino culture with the community at-large and to promote the fact that Lorain is the International City.”
Vendors included local health organizations and others who performed free screenings and passed out brochures, flyers, and other written material.
The CHIP president stated that what makes the festival so special is that “almost a dozen different organizations played a role in its success.” He stated vendor partners allowed the community to connect with available resources and educational material to meet some of their needs.
“The Hispanic community has such a large role in this city and county,” said Jim Ziemnik, director of the Metro Parks told the Lorain Morning Journal. “It’s a match made in heaven that the Metro Parks can partner with the Hispanic community to have an opportunity to share their culture, history, and heritage.”
Carrion credited the organization’s executive team for the strategic partnerships CHIP has forged, as well as “a sincere passion” of its membership to do what is needed to help the community.
CHIP is also noted for its bipartisan political forums around election time, to assist Latinos as they vote for various candidates.
Carrion, who recently announced he’ll run next year for Lorain mayor, stated he became CHIP president because he “was inspired by the accomplishments” of seasoned leaders and the “potential the organization has to meet the needs of the community,” while meeting its “mission of advocacy and progress.”