Orange County Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month
National Hispanic Heritage Month is an annual celebration of the history and culture of U.S. Hispanic communities. The event, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, commemorates how these communities have influenced and contributed to American society, and Orange County is marking these achievements locally with a month full of special events and festivities.
“Hispanics represent 33 percent of Orange County’s population of 1.4 million residents, which is significant,” stated Ilia Torres, special assistant to Mayor Jerry L. Demings. “From a County perspective, Mayor Demings places a special emphasis on diversity and inclusion, so it’s important for us to bring people together and create a cultural awareness, and Hispanic Heritage Month provides us with the perfect opportunity in which to do that.”
This year’s celebration began on September 12 with an official Orange County Proclamation, which was dedicated to Ashley Cariño, Miss Universe Puerto Rico and an aerospace engineer student at UCF.
Other highlights include a Hispanic Heritage Art Exhibit at The Mall at Millenia, which features artwork from Central Florida artists, as well as colorful and festive traditional dresses from several Hispanic countries. The collaboration is the first of its kind in the region, as it teams up a luxury-shopping destination with local government and community partners to bring cultural awareness about diverse Hispanic cultural backgrounds, traditions and heritages in Orange County. Running concurrently is the annual Hispanic Heritage Art Exhibit at the Orange County Admin Center, which will also feature artwork and traditional dresses from several Hispanic countries.
On Oct. 12 at The Renaissance Senior Center, a grand celebration event — Unidos: Stronger, Together — will showcase cultural performance groups and food from various Hispanic countries. Eight youth also will be recognized with the Hispanic Youth Leadership Award, and a local Hispanic leader will be presented with the Hispanic Service Award for his or her service, generosity and support to the Hispanic community.
On Oct. 14, the recipients of the Hispanic Youth Leadership Award will be recognized at halftime during the Orlando Magic’s Noche Latina (Hispanic Heritage Night). Part of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Hispanic Heritage Scholarship Fund of Metro Orlando, an organization dedicated to investing in the college education of Hispanic youth in Central Florida. To purchase tickets online, visit Noche Latina.
“We enjoy showcasing our cultures in every single way … through music, food and those who are exhibiting and performing,” said Torres. “We encourage the entire community to participate in these events and help create the cultural awareness that makes us ‘stronger, together.’”
For more information on Hispanic Heritage Month events, go to Hispanic Heritage Network of Orange County Facebook Page.