Latinos Unidos gathers for first event in years

Latin American culture celebrated through new “Fiesta Latina” event

A mariachi band sings and plays in the gazebo room of SPU's student union building. By them, a student in a pink skirt and white lace top twirls.

Chris Yang | The Falcon
A live mariachi band played music throughout Latinos Unidos’ first “Fiesta Latina” event.

While the long line for the food at Fiesta Latina was slowly moving forward, students chatted, ate Mexican candies and engaged in impromptu dancing to the music playing from loud speakers.

Though it could take up to 15 minutes to reach the food, there were no objections. People who couldn’t find seats simply kept standing and danced as they were eating.

When the rain prevented Fiesta Latina from being held in Martin Square on Monday, the party didn’t stop; it was merely moved indoors to the Gazebo in the SUB.

The event was hosted by the Latinos Unidos club right here on campus.

The admission, $1, bought food from a buffet of food and drinks, including horchata, a mix of iced rice milk and cinnamon.

Over a hundred students turned up for traditional Latin American cuisine and danced to music from a live mariachi band. Senior Alex Reales, the Latinos Unidos president who helped organize the event, explained its significance.

“The last event was three to four years ago, so we went through the proposals … it was difficult just knowing what to do,” he said. “But thankfully with the help of everybody and our advisor [Interim Campus Program Coordinator Jacob Arzaga] we were able to make this happen. We want to bring the Latino community together … Sometimes we can’t find each other and it’s very, very difficult.”

Once the first portion of students finished eating, tables were cleared away for dancing. The latecomers and those still working on their plates watched from the sidelines, smiling, talking and eating as others danced to the music.

First-year Hannah Lichti, watching the event, said she’s minoring in Spanish and appreciated this year’s Fiesta.

“The food was amazing; it was so good. I thought that it was very authentic food,” she said. “I’m just loving the mariachi and just seeing everybody out here … I‘m so glad that this club is putting on an event that’s attracting so many people.”

Ephi Siyum claps along with the mariachi band. There are people dancing in the background.

Chris Yang | The Falcon
Ephi Siyum and other students dance to the mariachi music.

Senior Mary Peggins, an elementary education major, spoke of why the event attracted her.

“So I’m a senior here and my first two years here, there’s always a Cinco de Mayo event put on by Salsa Club,” she said. “But I know that last year they didn’t have too much going on, so it’s cool to see it come back again in a different way. I think it’s really important to have events that celebrate Mexican culture … I think having candies is a great little touch too … having that here was more authentic and awesome.”

Senior Tori Nakamatsu-Figaroa described the event as having great decorations and food, and even better horchata.

Though the event cleared somewhat after dinner was served, the music and dancing kept on. Adriel Gama, a junior who helped plan the event, described why it was special to him and for SPU.

“In Latin American culture, this is what we do,” he said. “We like to gather everyone together and have one big meal, and mariachi is something we do at every party you know? So this is — for us this is home, and this is something we do as family and friends, and [the students] get to be part of that and see how we like to spend time with our families and with our friends.”

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