The Urbana Latino Association hosted an outdoor celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month on Saturday, Oct. 5 beneath beautiful blue skies. As Latin band Grupo Quimboa played, people of all ages moved on the dance floor set in the middle of the plaza in front of Urbana Library. Community members gathered to chat and enjoy foods from the Traditional Authentic Mexican Food truck, while children did crafts and listened to story time.
The Urbana Latino Association grew out of a small group started by Byron Bustos, who was born in Ecuador; his wife, Jeanette, who is of Dominican Republic heritage; and four other couples who wanted to keep Latino influences in their lives and the lives of their children, ages 2 to 14. “We talked about doing something to celebrate Latino culture in Urbana,” said Bustos.
The couples started out in the Villages of Urbana, holding a celebration at the Natelli Center in 2017, followed by another in 2018, along with other smaller events. This year, they looked to focus all of their energy on one large celebration. They chose to hold the event at the library because, said Bustos, “we wanted to include the entire Urbana community, not just the Villages. … The library is more inclusive.”
“When we advertised this year’s event,” Bustos continued, “people were asking, ‘Who are you (as a group)?” Bustos and his partners then started a Facebook group and invited friends.
The still-informal group, now known as the Urbana Latino Association, has grown to a network of about 50 folks that Bustos and the association can enjoy their culture with and rely on for support in the association’s endeavors.
Urbana High School Honors Society students and a student group from the library volunteered to support the event.
Sponsors of the celebration included the Villages of Urbana, Friends of the Greater Urbana Library, Urbana Highlands, Urbana Family Dental and Prudential.
Now, Bustos said, the group wants to grow and to expand its reach. “The goal is to bring all of the Urbana community together,” he explained. “Next year, we want to include more of the community, to bring a little bit of culture to our area … to celebrate our roots.” They hope to provide more cultural heritage activities, language classes, and socials as the Urbana community grows. For the second year in a row, the group decorated the halls, walls, and cases of the Urbana library during Hispanic Heritage Month.
For more information about the group, visit the Facebook page “Urbana Latino Association,” join the Facebook group “Urbana, MD Latino Association,” or email Byron.Bustos@gmail.com.