HUMBOLDT PARK — A mini outdoor festival with salsa dancing, street vendors and more is coming to Paseo Boricua every weekend this summer.
The Puerto Rican Cultural Center is launching the event series, which kicks off this Saturday, to steer business to local shops along the Division Street stretch and safely celebrate the neighborhood’s vibrant Puerto Rican community.
“We were trying to think of a way we could bring more people to support the local businesses and also really wanting to celebrate our community and our resilience,” organizer Xiomara Rodriguez said.
The first event is set for Saturday afternoon. A group of local circus performers, La Vuelta, is slated to perform at 2 p.m. and again at 4 p.m. at 2559 W. Division St.
Street vendors will be stationed along Paseo Boricua, a stretch of Division Street from Western to California avenues. As part of the event, Esmerelda’s Lounge at 2539 W. Division St. will host salsa dancing and DJs.
The Puerto Rican Cultural Center plans to hold the event every Saturday through the summer. Each Saturday will feature a different performance or cultural attraction. Rodriguez said she’s lined up a rapper and spoken word artist, a Reggaeton artist, and a documentary about Humboldt Park and the roots of the Puerto Rican Parade for the month of April.
The event series is called El Jolgorio de Salsa y Más, which roughly translates to “A joyous gathering of the people with salsa and more” in Spanish. It’s an extension of Mercado del Pueblo, a market the cultural center launched a few months ago to help to small business owners and entrepreneurs launch their careers.
Like Mercado del Pueblo, the event series is also meant to lift up local artists who have been struggling during the coronavirus pandemic and don’t qualify for federal relief, Rodriguez said. All of the events are suggested donation.
“Part of why we’re doing this is we’re asking for people to donate to [artists and performers] so they can have resources,” Rodriguez said.
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