By Ricky Richardson | Guest Contributor
Inglewood, CA. – It was a nice, lovely day in the City of Champions, with postcard worthy, clear blue skies and a welcomed Autumn breeze, in contrast to the recent heatwave.The City of Inglewood celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month a large and growing cultural festival, Saturday, September 16, 2017, on the grounds of Crozier Middle School. National Hispanic Month, September 15-October 15, Americans recognize the tremendous contributions made and the important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States, we unite each year to celebrate their heritage and culture.
Hispanics have had a profound and positive influence on our country through their strong commitment to family, faith, hard work and service. They have enhanced and shaped our national character with centuries-old traditions that reflect the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural customs of their respective communities.
Hispanic Heritage Month, whose roots go back to 1968, begins each year on September 15, the anniversary of Independence of five Latin American Countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile, Belize also celebrate their Independence days during this period.
The celebration in Inglewood was free and opened to the public. Several thousand people enjoyed live bands playing Latin Jazz, Salsa, Mariachi, and Cumbia. Attendees also enjoyed authentic Ballet Folklorico and Aztec Dancers, an awesome classic car show, interactive and carnival style games, face painting and arts and crafts that engaged the whole family. Various booths featured community resource information and vendor booths, health screenings and delicious Mexican cuisine.
Radio personality and Community Service Director Josefa Salinas (Old School 104.7FM) with co-host Ce Ce The Mamacita (93.5 KDAY) served as Mistress of Ceremony to introduce each band with a brief bio and made additional announcements throughout the afternoon.
The program officially got under way with a performance by Ballet Folklorico Flor De Mayo in bright, vibrant costumes to thrilled the crowd and I with some traditional folkloric dances from various regions of Mexico.
The Mariachi Divas, back by popular demand was another crowd favorite. This two-time Grammy Award winning band in constantly in demand, and performing all over town, the Nation as well as internationally. The group of talented women once again wowed the crowd during their time in the spotlight.
Ballet Folklorico Flor De Mayo returned to the stage with a powerful, spirit filled performance of Aztec dances.
The Bob DeSena Latin Jazz Band is another wonderful band that was making a return engagement to the festival. The band consisted of Bob DeSena-trumpet, flugelhorn and vibes, the lovely Iliana Rose-keyboards an in demand keyboardist all over Southern California, Dwayne Augustine-bass, Rolando Mendoza-congas and Augie Roman-timbales. They heated up the festival grounds with some contagious Afro-Cuban music, Latin jazz that propelled dancers to the new dance floor installed for this years celebration.
City Officials welcomed everyone to this marvelous cultural celebration. In attendance were Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts, Councilmember George Dotson, District 1, Councilmember Alex Padilla, District 2, Councilmember Eloy Morales, District 3, Councilmember Ralph L. Franklin, District 4, Police Chief Fronterotta, State Assemblymember Steven Bradford, and other city officials. City Officials presented and award, Proclamation to Josefa Salinas for all of the wonderful things that she does in and for the community.
The crowd waited patiently for the performance by La Sonora Dinamita. We were not disappointed as they band revved up the engines with a set of high energy cumbia that resulted in a crowded dance floor throughout their entertaining set.
Ballet Folklorico Macias was another group making a return engagement to the festival. This group is a cultural institution in the City of Inglewood under the leadership of Daniel Macias. Their amazing skills, choreography, were on full display while adorn in vibrant, colorful outfits.
The surprise highlight of the festival was the show stopping performance by Pedrito Fregoso. He held the crowds undivided attention with his calm, cool stage presence and jaw dropping vocal talents. Hoping the Pedrito Fregoso returns next year to wow the crowd.
In between acts people strolled through the vintage cars that were on display from members of several local car clubs. Award trophies were presented to the participants in the classic car show. Several lucky people walked away with some great raffle prizes. Raffle prizes consisted of Forever 21 gift certificates, $50 Costco Gift Certificate, Autographed Rams helmet and a football signed by several current Los Angeles Rams player, tickets to a Rams game as well as two pairs of diamond earrings.
AS you just read, a great time was had by all in attendance. Visit www.hispanicheritagemonth.org for more information for events celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in your community. You can share in these special annual tributes by learning and celebrating the generations of Hispanic and Latino Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society.