Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Good Day to Be Hispanic; Fiesta Playera Celebrates Community

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Good Day to Be Hispanic; Fiesta Playera Celebrates Community

Article excerpt

Byline: Maggie FitzRoy, Shorelines staff writer

Victor Cora watched as couples and families gathered on the SeaWalk Pavilion green Saturday -- clapping their hands to Latin rock, munching on pinchos and empanadillas and greeting each other under the early afternoon sun.

"We've been overdue for a dry Fiesta Playera," said Cora, the annual Hispanic festival's founder and director.

For the past two years, torrential rains kept many from attending one of the region's largest Hispanic events. This year's sky was a kaleidoscope of sun, clouds, light drizzle and more sun.

A soft breeze blew off the ocean around 1 p.m. as Zirah Torres of Jacksonville and her 3-year-old niece, Imaya Rankins, sat on the grass, listening to the band Diario Vivar. Imaya held her aunt's hands and bopped up and down to the beat.

They had just finished eating pinchos, a type of Latin shish-kabob, and were enjoying the music, Torres said. She tries to come to every year, but last year had to work.

"It's a lot better with the amphitheater," she said. "I like it."

Nearby, friends Suheily Samayoa, Arielis Perales and Suleika Robles sat in front of the stage. Side-by-side, the young women swayed back and forth to the rhythm. Robles said they came all the way from Orlando.

"We stayed in a hotel and everything," she said, grinning. "It's cool."

Cora said he hired three headliners this year, two more than in the past. Festivities began at noon with Isabel Pagen singing the American and Puerto Rican anthems. Hip-hop band Lyr1kal Man 1ak went on next, followed by Diario Vivir, Bachata de Germain, Sasha Boble, pop group Area 305, Merengue band El Vacano Del Merengue, C. Reyes y su Orq Vibracion, and Merenque hip-hop band Fulanito.

The day and music ended at 10 p.m., with a backwards walk into the ocean, an annual Puerto Rican tradition in honor of John the Baptist's birthday.

While listening to Diario Vivar, the Roditti family of Mayport was surrounded by many friends. …

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