ORANGE, NJ — On Saturday, Sept. 22, and Sunday, Sept. 23, the area of South Day Street, stretching from Freeway Drive East along U.S. Route 280 to Henry Street was transformed into a Hispanic cultural wonderland, filled with the food, music and culture, as well as carnival-style rides and attractions for children and adults of all ages, as part of the 10th annual Festival de Orange.
The event was organized by Orange Board of Education member and Hispano Mano a Mano President Cristina Mateo, El Gavilan LLC and El Salvador Restaurant. But Mateo said they couldn’t have done it without the support of Mayor Dwayne Warren, the Orange City Council and the township employees, who helped set up the different booths and attractions, and provided security for the event.
“I am very happy and pleased with God, the mayor, city officials, participants, vendors, staff and volunteers,” said Mateo on Monday, Sept. 24. “They made this 10th annual Central America and Mexico Independence Festival and Hispanic Celebration a reality. I love the city of Orange and to be able to celebrate such an event with so many people is honorable.”
According to Mateo, the lineup of artists for this year’s event included: K-Paz de la Sierra, Sonora Dinamita, Banda Feroz; Jose Lora, La Flama de Mexico, Grupo Halley, Grupo Coherencia, Impacto Positivo, Los Infieles de Linares, K3 de Mexico, Javier Monthiel, Grupo Kontacto, Grupo Truendo, DJ Joshi and DJ Kenny.
In 2017, the Trump administration decided to revoke the Temporary Protection Status for 200,000 El Salvadorans who came to live and work in the United States after two devastating earthquakes ravaged their home country, and for 58,000 Haitians who came here after an earthquake devastated their island in 2010. And the fate of thousands of immigrant children is still undecided, along with the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.
However, Mateo said the two-day Festival de Orange was not about politics; it was about celebrating 10th annual Central America and Mexico Independence Festival and Hispanic Celebration and the culture and contributions of all Spanish-speaking people to their adopted country.
“To my partners, Marcos Monroy, Gregorio Leon and Henry Monroy, I want to say: Thank you for all they do, not just in the festival, but in the community,” said Mateo. “This 10th anniversary was amazing.”
Mateo said that the timing of the annual Festival de Orange has always been important but, in light of ongoing issues regarding immigration in the United States, this year’s festival has added significance.
“September is Hispanic Heritage Month and this is the period of time where we come together to celebrate one of the greatest contributions of our community and our people and our culture to this great nation,” said Mateo on Sunday, Sept. 16. “We will continue to contribute to the growth of the nation, because we believe that this is the land of all.”