Savannah kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month with festivals, parade

Credit: Grayson Hoffman/Savannah Morning News

Credit: Grayson Hoffman/Savannah Morning News

The Metropolitan Savannah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is holding its first parade and festival for Hispanic Heritage Month since 2017 on Saturday. President Alfonso Ribot said his goal is to spread cultural awareness, and he wants everyone to join in the celebration.

"We don't want to exclude anybody, and everyone is welcome to be with us," Ribot said. "Every year we have national Hispanic Heritage Month, and people seem to ignore it, but it is what it is, right? We're here to stay, we're not going anywhere and we bring so much to the communities we live, work and play in. This is something that is really important for the Hispanic community."

National Hispanic Heritage Month was created in 1986, originally observed as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson, and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period beginning Sept. 15 and ending on Oct. 15.

Ribot said this is the second parade since 2017, and their second parade ever because they were unable to secure the funding in 2018. Then, COVID-19 prevented them from having it in subsequent years.

Credit: Richard Burkhart, Savannah Morning News

Credit: Richard Burkhart, Savannah Morning News

"Now after six, seven years, we're going to have it again," Ribot said. "It's a big difference, everything is different now and we just have a lot of volunteers and people who want to get their hands dirty and build the float and get the word around."

The parade begins at 9 a.m. on Broughton Street, followed by a festival at noon on 201 Port St., Savannah, Ribot said.

"We're going to have vendors, food trucks, music, dancing, all sorts of different things happening that people can enjoy for free, other than the food," Ribot said.

Ribot said the major thing is that people will be able to share in celebration with other people who are not Hispanic.

"We're trying to get the community together," Ribot said. "We got people coming from Atlanta, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Jacksonville, to gather here and celebrate Hispanic heritage in this region. I'm excited because we were finally able to put it together this year. There's some quirks but we're working it out."

On Friday, the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month Elizabeth Galzara, the chair of MSAVHCC has organized a festival celebrating El Grito, or the Mexico Independence Day.

The name of the day comes from "El Grito de Delores" or "The Cry of Dolores," which is a speech given by a Mexican leader at his church on Sept. 15, 1810, Galzara said. He called on his congregation, urging them to fight for the end of Spanish rule, for racial equality, and for redistribution of land. This speech launched the Mexican War of Independence.

The celebration Galzera is hosting is from 5 to 11:30 p.m., Friday at Forsyth Park and is the kickoff to Hispanic Heritage month.

"We will have food, mariachi, local bands, Danza Azteca, and Central American folklore," Galzera said. "At 11 p.m, we'll do El Grito, following the tradition."

People can also support and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by attending the Savannah Jazz Festival, which MSAVHCC sponsors and has four different Hispanic performers. The festival is from Sept. 18 to Sept. 24.

This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Hispanic Chamber of Commerce kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month with festivals, parade


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