The City of Cambridge, in collaboration with El Planeta Media & the Central Square Business Association, celebrated the first-ever VivaLatino Cambridge festival on Saturday, September 26th, 2015 at the beautiful University Park at MIT, in the heart of the Central Square Cultural District.
VivaLatino Cambridge, a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month featured food, “futbolito” games (A tournament of 4-vs-4 soccer), live music, dance and interactive activities for the whole family. Under a beautiful sky, a diverse crowd started to arrive at 12pm to Sidney Street, between Franklin and Pacific to celebrate Hispanic culture and traditions.
This was the first time in the City’s history, Cambridge brought together the community to learn about and celebrate the Latino culture. Hundreds of residents had the opportunity to explore the different aspects of the Latino traditions such as music, arts & crafts, gastronomy and joined a giant Salsa dancing class!
“Growing up in a very culturally rich city and in Cambridge we had a strong presence as a Latino community, back in the 80’s and 90’s we had a Latino Festival in Columbia Park. When I came to the Council I thought about reviving this idea so in 2014 we had a hearing with the Arts and Celebrations Committee and we talked about this idea,” explains Cambridge Vice-Mayor Dennis Benzan who envisioned VivaLatino Cambridge as an addition to the line-up of well-known Festivals that make of Cambridge a unique place for residents and visitors.
Benzan recalls that during that hearing, Hispanic leaders like Jose Masso from “¡Con Salsa!” radio show testified and explained why it was important to celebrate the inclusion and integration of the Latino community in the City of Cambridge. El Planeta Media, the largest locally-owned Hispanic media company, joined Vice-Mayor Benzan as one of the organizers of VivaLatino Cambridge.
With expertise organizing and promoting large festivals in Boston such as Festilatino and Health and Family, El Planeta worked hand in hand with Vice-Mayor Benzan’s team, the City of Cambridge and Central Square Business Association (CSBA) in order to launch VivaLatino with a high note.
The Festival idea evolved into the giant “fiesta” celebrated on Saturday, September 26th, thanks to the leadership of the Executive Director of CSBA, Robin Lapidus. With expertise organizing big events such as The Taste of Cambridge and Cambridge Jazz Festival, Lapidus know-how made of VivaLatino Cambridge a first-class event that won the hearts of the business and arts communities and the City Government.
With VivaLatino Cambridge Central Square Business Association continue to serve the needs of the local businesses and to advocate for improvements to Central Square that benefit everyone. Some of the entertainment highlights included:
-The Festival was opened on stage by The Amigos School, third and fourth grade students that presented the flags of Latin America.
-Maria Asenjo recited poetry about the history of the Americas.
-Jorge Santiago Arce performed on the Congas and had an interactive workshop with the audience.
-The Cambridge Hitmen baseball team received trophies and Paul Parravano, from the MIT Office of Government and Community Relations addressed the audience. -Boston String Academy’s students performed a beautiful set of classical music.
-Julian de las Nieves performed Bachata.
-Chu Trompeta played Merengue.
-Rumba y Timbal Dance Company presented a Salsa coreaography and leaded a giant Salsa lesson.
-The City Council recognized Jose Masso from “¡Con Salsa!” radio show as The Ambassador of Latin Culture in Massachusetts.
-Carlos y Alejandra presented Bachata tunes.
-Trio Latino with the prestigious Ocar Stagnaro performed Latin Jazz.
-To end the night Edwin Pabon and his Orchestra performed Latin tunes.
-Ten teams from Cambridge and surrounding cities played in the Cambridge Futbolito Cup organized by Campeon Soccer Specialty House.