It's not uncommon for yearly events, no matter how long they've been around or how popular they are in the community, to suddenly stop due to any number of reasons. But some events are special, and worth fighting to keep around. For its organizers, the annual Latin Pride Festival is one of those special events.
The festival, scheduled for Saturday, August 25, from11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton, has become a much anticipated event for many since its inception, putting Latino countries' culture on display each year.
"It's very nice when you get to see and learn about other cultures and ethnicities," said Scranton resident Cesar Reyes. "It's a nice way to reach out to people and say, ‘This is where we come from, this is what we do.' I believe we should have more of that."
Reyes is one of several organizers who are helping put the event together. He said his main responsibilities include booking some of the DJs and musical acts and acting as emcee for the event.
He's helped with the festival in years past but found more responsibility thrust upon him this year, along with the event's other organizers, when they discovered that Pedro Gonzalez, the festival's previous organizer, was not planning on putting it on this year.
"The main goal is actually to save the festival, because there wasn't going to be a festival," said Reyes. "And, out of nowhere Blanca (Fernandez) had to start putting it together, start organizing it."
Reyes said Fernandez, a Scranton resident, took it upon herself to start planning the event.
The group discovered only six weeks ago the festival was not being planned, and had to get to work immediately to make sure that the annual event would continue in the Scranton area.
With the short window of time to put it together, the planning became even more time consuming than it normally would be. For organizers like Reyes, who is in the process of beginning his own business, 5 Star Promotions and Entertainment, spare time is scarce. But he found a way to help out, because he said he believes in the festival.
"It's something that's been going on for a few years. Everyone's expecting it, everyone knows it's going to happen, and it's very important to actually keep that going," said Reyes.
"It's very important for the people in the community. It's important also to the locals to show them something different, just like people see different things when we have the Italian Festival (and) the St. Patrick's Day Parade, it's very important."
Reyes added that in many ways the work he's done with the festival reflects what he's aiming to do with his new business.
"Basically, we're going to be putting together a lot of shows as well as community activities along with this business," said Reyes.
There were some drawbacks in having to put the festival together in six weeks. The length of the event, for example, had to be cut from two days down to one, eliminating the parade that usually takes place on the second day.
But, despite the changes, those involved still feel the festival will showcase the same spirit in one day that it usually does in a weekend.
"It's a lot of music…food…people, it's fun," said Sarah Faria.
Faria became involved with the festival after running into Fernandez at the supermarket. Fernandez shared with Faria the story of how the group needed to move quickly to put the event together.
"I asked if she needed any help, and she was like, ‘Yes, I need all the help I can get,' and that's how I became an organizer," laughed Faria.
In addition to the help Faria is able to provide, her involvement also marks the first time in years that the Brazilian community will be represented at the event, a factor that also influenced Faria's decision to get involved.
"I thought it was very important…someone from my community had to do it…so all the Brazilians would see how important it is to bring the community together," said Faria.
Faria had attended the event in years past, and said she thought "it was very interesting how all the different Latino backgrounds got together, how they each come with their culture and how they showed it."
Faria and her fitness instructor, Allan Souza, along with their dance troop, will be displaying some traditional Brazilian dances, including Samba, Zumba and Pagode.
There will be traditional dances from an assortment of many more Latin countries as well as a performance from the local group Grupo Weepa, a demonstration from the Scranton Police Department's K-9 unit, games for the kids, Latin food and more.
Now that the festival is getting closer, some organizers have already started to think about next year. Reyes said he hasn't decided if he would be an organizer again, but hopes that the festival will continue.
"Someone should do it every year. It doesn't have to be the same people doing it, someone should do it. We're hoping that if someone else does it, they do it right, (and) they do it for the right reasons."
There's still time to get involved with the annual Latin Pride Festival this year, as the organizers are still looking for sponsors and volunteers to work the day of the event.
For more information on the festival, visit www.facebook.com/cesars.copacabana or call 906.1850.
Part of the proceeds raised from the festival will be donated to the K-9 unit.
What: Latin Pride Festival
When: Saturday, August 25, starting at 11:30 a.m.
Where: Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton
Info: www.facebook.com/cesars.copacabana or call 906.1850.