MERIDEN — The Meriden Public Library, Mariachi Laureles del Monte and Ballet Folklórico Alma de México from the SCOW School of Music opened Hispanic Heritage Month at the library on Saturday afternoon.
Librarian Barbara Belejack explained that Mexico declared its independence from Spain on the 16th of September and welcomed event attendees to the library. The event was held in three of the library’s new community rooms, which were decorated with papel picado banners in the green, white and red of the Mexican flag.
“It’s kind of a kickoff for Hispanic Heritage Month and for our bigger events in the new space,” Belejack said.
Among many other events, Belejack highlighted several of the events that will take place in the library in the next few weeks that celebrate Hispanic culture. Meriden is growing increasingly Hispanic as the city had about 22,300 Hispanic residents in 2020, a little over a third of the city’s population, according to statistics from the U.S Census Bureau.
About 50 audience members clapped along as the mariachi played traditional Mexican music like “Son de los Aguacates” or “Son de la Negra” and Mexican love ballads like “Si nos dejan” and heart-wrenching rancheras like “El Rey.” Even though the mariachi are students, they wore traditional charro outfits with short jackets, silk scarves and pants or skirts with jingly chains on the side.
Dancers from the Spanish Community of Wallingford school of music also performed traditional dances while wearing the colorful dresses native to Jalisco, Mexico. Mariachi music is from that region of the country and mariachi teacher Saúl Olivas demonstrated the origins of mariachi music on his Jalisco harp.
He explained that the first mariachi was just a harper, but that the instrument fell out of style until a recent renaissance in the 2010s.
Steven and Dulce Maritzer of Bristol attended the event with their two toddlers, aged 4 and 5. Dulce Maritzer left Tampica, Mexico, about nine years ago and said she has met people who think that Mexicans celebrate their independence on Cinco de Mayo and walk around waving maracas.
Now that she had kids, she said she wanted them to grow up with an idea of what Mexican culture really is like outside of the stereotypes. The family found the event online and decided to attend while wearing traditional charro sombreros and the colors of the Mexican flag.
“I want the kids to have an idea of Mexican culture. It’s wonderful for them to have a good understanding,” she said.
It was a busy weekend for SCOW’s musical performers. Mariachi Laureles del Monte and Ballet Folklórico Alma de México were featured at a Hartford event celebrating Mexican independence on Friday.
Latino Communities Reporter Lau Guzmán is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Support RFA reporters at the Record-Journal through a donation at https://bit.ly/3Pdb0re, To learn more about RFA, visit www.reportforamerica.org.