WESTFIELD – September 28, 2023 – The 28th annual ceremony to raise the flag of Puerto Rico will take place on Sunday, October 1st at 1 PM in front of Westfield City Hall on 59 Court Street in Westfield, MA. Then the celebration begins at the YMCA of Greater Westfield and will include voter registration.

Since 1995, the Puerto Rican community holds a ceremony to raise the flag of Puerto Rico on the grounds of Westfield City Hall.  The Westfield Puerto Rican Association (WEPRA) continues this tradition to celebrate culture during National Hispanic Heritage Month, and to honor families who settled in Westfield in the mid 20th century.  These families founded the Puerto Rican community in Westfield.

The ceremony will feature an official flag of Puerto Rico that is flown in the island’s municipalities and at the Puerto Rico Capitol building in San Juan.  The national anthems of the United States and of Puerto Rico, and “La Borinqueña” will be sung by Adrian Colombani, Alisa Soto and Ariana Roldan.

This year’s honoree is Mrs. Awilda Colombani, a successful businesswoman and leader in La Comunidad of St. Mary’s Church.  Awilda attributes all her accomplishments to God, who has been her strength and guiding force.  WEPRA recognizes Awilda as a standout businesswoman for thirty years in downtown Westfield.  She opened her beauty salon on Arnold Street in 1983.  When the building where her business was located was taken by eminent domain, she not only relocated, but expanded her business, the Slight Edge Salon, located at 20 Elm Street, in the heart of the city.   This year’s flag raising honors Awilda for her perseverance, success, religious life, and for contributions to family and community.

Following the ceremony, the community is invited to gather at the YMCA for a traditional Puerto Rican meal catered by Sabor Latino of Chicopee with desserts by members of the Westfield Latino community.  DJ music will be provided by Doug Sweeney.  The indoor program will feature the cultural group Bomba de Aquí with lead dancer Brendaliz Cepeda, granddaughter of the renowned patriarch and matriarch of bomba and plena, Don Rafael Cepeda and Doña Caridad Brenes.  Bomba de Aquí is a dance and music company that performs and teaches Afro-Puerto Rican traditions in Western MA and Central CT.

Tabling at the community event are: City Clerk Kaitlyn Bruce with Voter Registrations; Becky Gonzalez with the En3rgy Up fresh organic juices and ginger shots, and; the MA Urban Canopy with their offer for free trees to downtown residents.  WEPRA will hold a raffle for a dominos table handmade in Westfield, MA.

We thank our hosts, Mayor Michael McCabe and the City of Westfield, and Andrea Allard of the YMCA of Greater Westfield.  A special thank you to our sponsors Golden Years Home Care and Dunkin Donuts at 93 Main Street, and to the generous members of our community.

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