Midtown block party celebrates Latin American culture, brings neighbors together – Daily Freeman

KINGSTON, NY — Midtown celebrated the independence of several different Latin American countries with a block party on Liberty Street.

The event featured mariachi music, free food and vendors selling trinkets, jewelry and toys. Many neighbors joined in the festivities, pulling out chairs on their porches or the sidewalk and grabbing everything from tamales to hamburgers and hot dogs.

The Rev. Joy McVane, Pastor of One Hope Community at Clinton Ave Methodist Church, who helped to organize the event along with Jeanne Edwards and other neighbors, said it was only natural to celebrate the holiday as many Latin American families live near the church, particularly from Mexico and Guatemala.

Sept. 15 is Independence Day for Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, while Sept. 16 Independence Day for Mexico.

“The church is part of the neighborhood,” McVane said. “When Jesus said ‘love thy neighbor’ he meant people around the church and we’re taking that seriously.”

“All the neighbors pooled their money together for this, except for the music, which was sponsored by Radio Kingston,” Edwards said.

Nereida Jimenez, who lives in the neighborhood, said she liked the welcoming family atmosphere.

“I never thought we’d celebrate Independence Day here,” Jimenez said. “I feel very, very happy, it’s perfect,”

Margie Menard, the Kingston Library’s Executive Director was offering crafts for the kids and was to read the picture book “Pepe and the Parade.”

“It’s amazing. It’s wonderful,” she said, as she set up a table for the crafts and storytime, with the craft maraca kids could decorate being the biggest hit.

Tyrone Linen came from down the street with his grandchildren Zakeem Jackson, Anthony Jackson, both 9, and Sophia Jackson, 7, who took turns riding the mechanical bull.

“It’s nice everyone is out here having fun,” Jackson said as Zakeem took a ride on the bull.

Zakeem Jackson, 9, grandson of Tryone Linen, of Liberty Street, Kingston, takes a spin on a mechanical bull at the Midtown Spanish Independence Celebration block party on Liberty Street in Midtown Kingston, on Sept. 17, 2022 (Brian Hubert/Daily Freeman )

Latelsha Richardson stumbled upon the party after stopping at the Blue Fridge at Clinton Avenue Methodist Church. “It was a surprise to me. I like the band,” she said.

Nina Dawson, director of the Ulster County Youth Bureau, also stumbled upon the party. She said events like this, and the Bridge the Gap Festival last weekend, which she helped organize, can offer many benefits for the community.

“It’s great when we can do things together, rather than gun violence,” Dawson said.

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