Hackensack, NJ Community Message Boards
General Category => En Español => Topic started by: Editor on July 29, 2012, 10:40:18 PM
Hackensack festival celebrates Colombian Independence Day
Sunday July 29, 2012, 8:16 PM
BY REBECCA D. O'BRIEN
HACKENSACK — Foschini Park pulsed with music and the sizzle of frying cornmeal Sunday, as hundreds gathered to celebrate Colombian Independence Day.
KEVIN R. WEXLER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Cindy Rodriguez, 20, of Fairview dancing on stage Sunday at Foschini Park in Hacksack, where people gathered to celebrate Colombian Independence Day.
While Colombians make up a small percentage of Latinos in America — at a little under 1 million — about 10 percent of them make their homes in New Jersey, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
Beatriz Urrea and her husband drove from Pennsylvania to mark the occasion with her cousin, Blanca Gallego, who lives in Wayne. Both cousins were born in Colombia, which rose up against Spanish rule in the capital of Bogotá on July 20, 1810.
"We try to keep our traditions," Urrea said.
Gallego said she and her family always attend the Hackensack festival, part of a weeklong cultural celebration that’s been going on for more than 40 years.
Gallego’s daughter, Carina Moyano, 18, said her favorite Colombian foods were empanadas and chicharrons — fried pig skin. Grilled corn and ices were also for sale at stands around the park, alongside political and cultural stands.
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, who is running for reelection in November, made the rounds later in the afternoon, along with local officials.
Margarita Mercado, a recreation therapist who has been in Hackensack for 20 years, said she brings her American-born children to the celebration every year. "It means a lot because you are far away," Mercado said, flanked by her daughters and her aunt. "You see people you know."
Many Colombians in the U.S. tend to be recent immigrants, according to the Pew Center; two-thirds are foreign-born, compared with 37 percent of all Hispanics in the country.
Mercado described the connections among the Colombian community in Hackensack as "very strong," but said there was a fair amount of blending among Latin American cultures in the area.
Monica Castro, 37, left Cartagena just six months ago, settling in Queens; she was visiting Hackensack with other Colombian friends. Bobbing along to Latin pop, which competed with very loud electronic music from a nearby stage, Castro said the Foschini Park festivities were authentic.
"The celebrations in Colombia are the same as this," she said.
According to the first picture, the festival appears to have been held underneath Manhattan.
Towards the bottom of that image, you can see some of the festival, as seen from a half-mile away. The second picture is a blowup of the bottom left area of the first.
When it began raining hard mid-afternoon, I saw many people coming back from the festival, scurrying across the E lot in the downpour. No one had an umbrella and all were soaked.
It looked like fun.
When the rain finally stopped, I could hear the festival start right back up. I could see that there were still lots of people there. I imagine that - except for the few who had a car there - they were all totally soaked.