The sounds of rhythmic drums and trumpets fill your ears, you find yourself swaying to the beat as the Afro-Caribbean Ensemble plays to a sea of Latino/Hispanic students and faculty at Montclair State University. All while people around the student center quad are playing dominoes, dancing Merengue and eating Maduros (sweet fried plantains). This was the scene at the Hispanic Heritage Month block party, held by the Office of Hispanic Initiatives, which took place on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023.
The annual Hispanic Heritage Month Block party was started in 2021. The event every year since has been organized by the Office of Hispanic Initiatives as a way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and bring the Latino/Hispanic community on campus together for a day of fun.
The event started with speeches from Montclair State University’s Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Junius J. Gonzales to share the pride Montclair State University feels to be one of the largest Hispanic serving institutions on the east coast.
Speeches continued from the presidents of each Latinx organization on campus. Dominican Student Organization (DSO), Mexican American Student Association (MASA) and Latin American Student Organization (LASO).
Throughout the celebration, there were different student organizations that had tables set up across the student center quad.
There was also food available, face painting and a dominoes table.
In addition, the Afro-Caribbean Ensemble from the John J. Cali School of Music performed live a variety of popular Puerto Rican Bomba songs.
There was also a special performance by Mexican Jazz artist Jackie Ryan performing alongside the Afro-Caribbean Ensemble.
The event concluded with a performance from members of LASO, where they danced with the flag of their representative country.
The day was all smiles, good food, music, and of course, as any good Hispanic event should have, lots and lots of dancing.