Miami to Celebrate Hispanic Pride This Weekend

South Florida’s LGBT community is arguably one of the most “out and proud” in the country. A quick look at the calendar would back that claim up with annual Pride festivals in Fort Lauderdale, Wilton Manors, Miami Beach and Lake Worth.

This weekend, the region’s sizable Latin population will add another Pride event to that list with the first “Celebrate Orgullo” festival. Spanish for “pride,” Orgullo will showcase the diverse cultural heritage and contributions of the Hispanic community and was planned to coincide with National Hispanic Heritage Month.

The festival will take place from noon to 6 p.m. at Lummus Park, between 10th and 11th Streets in Miami Beach, and will feature musical performances, folkloric dance, celebrity guests, drag performers and vendors representing both commercial and non-profit organizations, says Jorge Richa, a member of the organizing committee.

“(Celebrate) Orgullo got its start with Ivan Cano, manager of The Palace and a longtime advocate for the Hispanic community. He wanted to engage the Hispanic community at the grassroots level,” explains Richa. “What better way to do that than with a celebration of our culture.”

Cano recruited a small organizing committee, including Richa, community activist Herb Sosa and other leaders just two months ago. He then partnered with the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the city of Miami Beach and soon preparations were underway for the first event of its kind in South Florida.

“Hispanics have always been involved with the existing (LGBT) activities, but not had the opportunity to give a voice to their culture. Our goal is to create that environment of culture,” Richa says.

Five-time Grammy Award-winner Olga Tanon will headline performances on the main stage, joined by local performers Adora, Marytrini, Mariloly and Shanaya Bright, radio personality Chanel and Jose from “Minute of Fame.”

In addition to the entertainers, preliminary winners from a series of dance competitions held at local bars and nightclubs over the past month will compete during the festival’s grand finale for the inaugural dance title. Several clubs will also be hosting special parties in conjunction with the festival: Pandora at Bar 721, 721 Lincoln Lane, on Friday, Sept. 30; Inferno at Score, 727 Lincoln Rd., and Pandora at Bar 721 on Saturday, Oct. 1; and The Palace Bar on Sunday, Oct. 2.

In addition to entertainment and parties, Celebrate Orgullo includes a civic element, stresses Richa. Openly gay detective Juan Sanchez of the Miami Beach Police Department will be recognized with a Unity Coalition award for the instrumental role he played as liaison between the department and the LGBT community.

With residents representing 19 different Hispanic countries or cultures represented in the region, Richa feels the theme of the festival, “Heritage, Diversity, Integry and Honor: The Renewed Hope for America,” is especially appropriate for the first Celebrate Orgullo festival as organizers prepare for the thousands expected to attend.

Proceeds from the event will fund local scholarships and expectations high as the Hispanic community showcases its diversity this weekend.

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