ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Across the nation, many Latino traditions are passed down through festivals and celebrations. September’s Market Days at the International Plaza had a much deeper meaning.
The City of Rochester’s Hispanic Heritage Committee along with Ibero and St. Michael’s Catholic Church recognized 28 elders during a ceremony for their contribution and dedication in striving to make a positive impact in the North Clinton Neighborhood for more than two decades.
“Honoring those that set the path for us. Honoring those that have put the effort, blood, sweat and tears to change that narrative but never had the extra added support to do that. We’re going to add that support,” said Hispanic Heritage Committee Chairperson Ray Mayoliz.
It’s elders like Carmen Olmos, a songstress from Puerto Rico who came to Rochester more than 30 years ago and shared her musical talents with the church.
“When I come to this church I sit in the back, this church is big, but Felito, you know Felito said, come here. You’re a singer, you have to sing in the choir,” laughed Olmos.
Father Bob Werth says it’s significant keeping these Latin roots alive in a community.
“Culture is a constitutive element in the transmission of the gospel. That means to me, we can’t be a-cultural,” said Father Werth. “We have to affirm, our culture, and by the way one thing, I don’t think people understand, by affirming another person’s culture you’re actually affirming your own culture and becoming more aware who you are as a cultural person.”
For Honoree Miggie Concepcion, it’s not about the recognition but more about strengthening the Latino culture.
“We have to remind our children and the next generation the importance that we suffer and our parents and ancestors suffer to be where we are and to recognize that we’re still fighting the fight and to be proud and continue the tradition of our culture,” said Concepcion.
“Las raices de uno son muy profundas. Como te criaron, la musica, la comida” (“One’s roots run deep how you are raised, the music and food,” says Olmos)
The last Market Days of the season celebrated the decades of work by many Hispanics while encouraging many more to improve their community.