Community comes together for Fiesta de Navidad

La Casita Cultural Center hosts a party where people of all ages can sing, dance and enjoy a hearty meal.

Michelle Cáceres smiled, her bright purple skirt swirling around her waist. Her feet moved to the beat, the notes of drums and guitars echoing through the air. Cáceres, a member of Syracuse University’s Los Raices dance troupe, was full of energy, as she danced the night away.

Holiday festivities were in full swing Friday, Dec. 11 at La Casita Cultural Center’s Fiesta de Navidad. Along with dancing, the event featured musical performances by Pleneros D’ Borikén, Cosmic Pineapple and the children of La Liga’s Nuestro Futuro program. After the children led the crowd in a series of traditional Christmas carols, Cosmic Pineapple, a local high school band, took the stage to sing a couple of the holiday classics. As the group wrapped up its set, the audience was treated to an appearance by Saint Nick, who took time from all his efforts in the North Pole, to sit with kids and take pictures.

“It’s kind of like a piece of home.”
- Michelle Cáceres

Pleneros D’ Borikén, a professional band out of Rochester, got everyone grooving with its Bomba and Plena performance. Bomba and Plena are percussion-heavy Puerto Rican music styles. They often are associated with dance and movement.

Cáceres said she loved every minute of it. She said she hadn’t danced in over a month since the Raice’s last show, and the party offered her a great chance to remedy that.

Along with the dancing and singing, folks at La Casita also set out a holiday spread. The menu included arroz con gandules, (a traditional Puerto Rican rice dish) potato salad and pork.  After dinner and Santa’s visit, dulces (sweets) replaced the main course.

Tere Paniagua, the executive director of La Casita Cultural Center, highlighted the importance of staying true to the culture.

“The whole menu was really a holiday menu. Very traditional Puerto Rican and generally Caribbean cuisine,” she said. “This is where you’d find that, a party with that kind of food.”

Cáceres said the event’s environment was welcoming. 

“It’s kind of like a piece of home,” Cáceres said.

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