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Celebrating 'what unites us': Grand Haven's 4th annual Hispanic heritage festival

Below is the article published in today's edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.


The intermittent rain this weekend did not stop the party at the fourth annual Grand Haven Hispanic Heritage Fiesta held in Central Park.


Live bands filled the park with music all day Saturday, along with a variety of foods, drinks and retail vendors.


People danced in the street, as Columbus Avenue was closed off in front of the library. Couples took to the dance floor and kids formed a circle and took turns showing off their moves.


“I think it’s just really important to show pride in where we come from,” said Victoria Guzman, whose family moved to Grand Haven from Whitehall a year ago. Guzman’s dad, who brought his family to the festival, is from Mexico. Guzman, who danced around with the Mexican flag draped over her shoulders, said she wanted to share her culture with others during the festival.


“Within the last couple years, the racism and the hatred coming out, I think it’s important for us to celebrate and have a good time and show other people how we vibe,” Guzman said. “The Latin-American community, we’re very friendly, we’re good people. It’s important that other people see that too.”


During the festival, people and families from all walks of life walked around the park, trying food and some dancing to the music.


“I hope people come in with open minds, try some of our food, see how we dance to our music and join in,” Guzman said. “It’s a very welcoming atmosphere.”


With the last couple years of the festival being restricted by COVID-19 protocols, event organizers were excited for this year.


“This is our first year with no restrictions,” said Rev. Jared Cramer of St. John’s Episcopal Church, and one of the event organizers.


On top of being able to close off Columbus Avenue, the festival organizers also got permission from the city to fence off the park so people with alcoholic beverages could walk around their park with their drinks.


“People don’t think we have a Hispanic population in Grand Haven … It’s small but it’s vibrant,” Cramer said. “It’s an opportunity to come together and see what unites us in our humanity rather than what divides us.”


Event organizers said they were happy to see not only Hispanic families come from all over West Michigan to the event, but non-Hispanic people coming to learn more about the different cultures.


“The tacos have been going and the beer,” said Christian Garcia, board member of the Tri-Cities Puentes Initiative, of the popular food choices of the day. “There’s a little bit of everything.”

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