Friday night marked the opening of one of Reading's longest-running celebrations of Latino pride and culture. The Puerto Rican Latin Association celebrated its 26th annual Latin American Festival with food, music, rides and more that drew people from around the city.
"My kids really like the festival," said Vimaris Ortiz of Reading. "We have come to a couple of these in the past, and we always come back."
The festival, which continues today and Sunday at Sixth and Oley streets, features six carnival-style rides, pony rides and a band stage. More than 11 vendors, inlcuding Sofrito Gastro Pub, Colada's Social Hall and local chef Gloria Baez, are serving Latin cuisine and pina coladas.
This year's theme is "Un equipo, un sueno" or "Teamwork makes the dreamwork," a commentary on the combined efforts of Latino community groups to better Reading and Berks County.
"We chose this theme because it acknowledges the people who generously give of their time and talent to this organization and to our continuing commitment to the Reading-Berks Latino community," said Miguel A. Lopez, president of the Puerto Rican Latin Association. "We continue to strive to build a better future."
The festival also acts as a venue for outreach groups like Berks Women in Crisis and the Compadre Network, which educates men and boys on the effects and prevention of domestic violence.
As the sun set and temperatures cooled, more people began to make their way to the festival to enjoy the family atmosphere.
"I think we will do good this year," said Raquel Lopez, association secretary. "We have done some announcements on the radio, and we usually have a few thousand come out."
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