The Dunkirk Historical Society is pleased to present "A Celebration of Puerto Rican Traditions" on Saturday from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Clarion Hotel, Marina and Conference Center, 30 Lake Shore Drive East, Dunkirk.
The event will feature traditional music, dance, folk arts and foods to sample. Jesse Pabon's traditional band, La Krema, and traditional performers will mark some of the high points of the night. Traditional Puerto Rican folk arts will be displayed as well. Two Dunkirk restaurants that specialize in Puerto Rican foods will participate in the event by providing empanadas for guests to sample.
With donations from Goya Foods, the participating restaurants include Alma Latina Mex Restaurant (17 Cliff Star Drive) E & R Latin Flavor, Lakeshore Drive). The event is free and open to the public. Other sponsors include: New York State Council on the Arts, Clarion Hotel, Marina, and Conference Center; Goya Foods Inc.; Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, Petri's Baking Products Inc., Arkwright Printing, OBSERVER Chadwick Bay Broadcasting Corp., WDOE 1410 a.m. and 96 KIX FM.
Jesse Pabon, lead singer of La Krema remembers, "I used to play with a band that came from Puerto Rico. I was a percussionist. (I did) vocals, chorus. I put La Krema together in 1996. We play salsa, meringue, Latin Jazz. My parents were also into the music. My parents are from Aroro, Puerto Rico, the other side of the island, on the west coast, near San Juan . . . (My son) Nino wants to be a singer and follow in my footsteps."
Other members of La Krema are Albert Valderrano, Carlos Day, Calvin Rice, Raymond Rosas, Tyler Skelton, Juan A. Betancourt, Orlando Nunez, Rico Tribuzzi, Jose O. Maldonado, and Miguel Mitchell.
The Nov. 12 event is open to the public and marks the fifth consecutive year that the Dunkirk Historical Society has presented a celebration of Puerto Rican traditions, through their Folk Arts Program. Valerie Walawender, Folk Arts Program Director, has long been interested in the power of the arts to transform lives, and is especially excited about folk traditions, which give not only a sense of continuity across generations, but help to build a sense of family within the community.
Many artists pass on their art forms to their children and grandchildren, nieces, nephews and friends. Raymond Rosas, a member of La Krema, echos the importance of family in continuing their musical and cultural traditions, "My family is really into music. My dad really influenced me. I used to follow my dad. I'm self-taught. I used to play every day after school. I was lucky because my dad bought me every percussion instrument. (I am) lucky my dad had a band. I started to play with the band (when I was) 11 years old. I used to be called the mascot of the band growing up."
The Dunkirk Historical Society is a member of the Dunkirk Cultural District, along with Adams Art Gallery, and the Dunkirk Historic Lighthouse and Veterans Park Museum. The Dunkirk Cultural District is proud to em-brace the Free Community Project, an arts-based initiative designed to eliminate child abuse and neglect.