Hispanic Heritage Month flag-raising ceremony unites Orange

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ORANGE, NJ — In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Mayor Dwayne D. Warren and members of the local Hispanic community came together for a flag-raising ceremony for 21 nations outside Orange City Hall on Thursday, Oct. 10.

A good time had by all, as the nations of Ecuador, El Salvador, Paraguay, Cuba, Bolivia, Columbia, Guatemala, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republican, Argentina, Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama, Mexico and Spain were celebrated by community members, who indulged in lively music and dance at the event.

Warren said he was proud to see the pride exhibited within the Hispanic community at the ceremony.

“Today is a Hispanic flag-raising,” Warren told the Record-Transcript at the event. “Central, South America, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Dominican Republic. They’re all coming here to raise their flag because, in Orange, we pride ourselves on diverse cultures, languages, people, food and certainly today is a celebration of that.”

“If you come to Orange, you’ll hear a plethora of different languages that represent different countries. All of those languages you’ll hear when you walk around the city of Orange Township and we raise flags in celebration of that diversity.” Warren added.

Dancing to the rhythm of their respective countries, young boys and girls of all ages performed in colorful dresses and suits.

Orange City Councilwoman Adrienne Wooten, together with Warren, showed her support as both held a flag in honor of each country being recognized.

Once all flags were called in recognition of each country, everyone who held a flag stood together in solidarity.

“I feel as though this is a wonderful event,” Wooten told the Record-Transcript at the event. “I feel that this is bringing hope to our community. I feel like it’s bringing togetherness to our community. Although we’ve done this a couple of years, it’s always great to see the Hispanic population come out.”

The occasion quickly turned into a melting pot and being Hispanic was not a requirement. The outdoor event was open for all to enjoy for themselves and brought everyone from all walks of life together in the city of Orange.

Orange Cultural Affairs Coordinator Campanella Godfrey watched the event unite attendees.

“Today’s event is a great event,” Godfrey said at the event. “We’re honoring other cultures from other countries. I think it’s a great event. We have such a great turnout. Like Councilwoman Adrienne Wooten said earlier, we did Nigeria; we do quite a lot of countries, in terms of flag-raising.”

“But this is a very special one today, because we’re covering Central America.” Godfrey added.

The event not only featured coordinated dance routines and upbeat music; it also featured royalty: Miriam Benitez, queen of the Festival of Orange 2019-2020, was in attendance.

“I feel really honored to be part of the event,” Benitez told the Record-Transcript at the event. “I feel honored to meet a lot of great people, especially in the city of Orange, so it’s much of an honor for me.”

“It’s basically representing the festival,” Benitez said to the Record-Transcript during the event, explaining what the title “queen of the festival” means. “It happens every year in September. It’s for Central America and Mexico as well, so it’s just representing the people, the community and being part of a great festival.”

At the conclusion of the festival, guests were presented with traditional Hispanic dishes from some of the countries.

Marcos Munroy, an Orange resident, was excited about the event’s turnout and the inclusion of the Hispanic community in Orange.

“We are raising the Spanish flags today at Orange City Hall,” Munroy said at the end of the event. “In doing so, we’re trying to bring some of our cultures over here in the city of Orange. I feel great because we get together over here with the Hispanic community and the mayor and the council members. We are so happy to be celebrating our Hispanic Heritage Month.”

Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated nationwide from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 every year. This month of celebration observes people recognizing the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the country’s history, heritage and culture.