By Leia Baez
Culture. Pride. Unity. It’s all part of the Latino Heritage Month kick-off set for Sept. 16 from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Milo Bail Student Center Plaza.
The fiesta, which is hosted by Lambda Theta Nu sorority, Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity and the Association of Latino American Students, will be the first event in which all three Latino-based organizations have collaborated.
“We really wanted to do something to unify all the Latino organizations and show the university there is unity on campus,” said Adriana Pi¤a, president of LTN. “Even though we [Latinos] are only 2 percent of the population at UNO, this [fiesta] really brings us together and helps us to go back to our roots.”
The fiesta’s leading event is a stepping demonstration by ethnic greek organizations.
Stepping, which is synchronized and syncopated moves, originates back to the 1940s when African-American fraternity pledges marched in line in a rite of initiation.
Over the years, ethnic greek organizations added singing, dancing and more swaggered moves. It is now a symbolization of pride and unity in one’s culture and organization.
“We invited other ethnic greek organizations to join in the step demonstration so it would open it up to other minority groups on campus,” said Marcos Rodriguez, treasurer of SLB.
Several events are planned to kick off Latino Heritage Month. Glenn Lewis, president of ALAS, will provide music during the start of the fiesta for dancing and socializing. Salsa and merengue, two forms of Latin dancing, will be demonstrated as well.
Free nachos and orchata, a popular Mexican beverage, will be served.
In honor of Mexican Independence Day, a segment on the significance of Mexican history will be read and of course, what’s a fiesta without a pi¤ata?
“We have been working on it [fiesta] since the summer,” Pi¤a said. “There has been a lot of promotion. So, I’m hoping for at least a turn out of 200 people.”
Mexican Independence Day, also known as 16 de Septiembre, celebrates Mexico’s independence from Spain.
Cinco de Mayo is sometimes mistakenly referred to as Mexican Independence Day, but is celebrated more by Latinos in the United States as opposed to 16 de Septiembre, which is celebrated more in Mexico.
The Latino Heritage Month kick-off and fiesta is “open to everyone and anybody that wants to come,” Pi¤a said.
All three Latino-based organizations will provide information for those who are interested.
Both Rodriguez and Pi¤a expect the fiesta to have a great turnout and be a lot of fun.
“We [Latinos] want to show how we celebrate and what our culture is about,” Rodriguez said. “The main thing is, we want people to understand.”