Flags from Hispanic countries hung from the second floor over the atrium of the Monroe County Public Library.
People of all ages and races gathered around and danced to Mariachi band and watched traditional Mexican folk dances.
In another room, children learned songs like the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” in English and Spanish, played games, listened to stories, made crafts and had caricature photos of them drawn.
People celebrated the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month on Oct. 15 at an event organized by the Monroe County Public Library along with La Casa Latino Cultural Center, City of Bloomington, El Centro Communal Center and Escuelita para Todos.
National Hispanic Heritage Month is from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 each year to honor Hispanic culture and to celebrate the independence days of several countries including Costa Rica, Mexico, Chile and Honduras along with several others.
The celebration included music, food, games, dancing and activities aimed to teach and honor Hispanic culture. Monroe County Public Library staff member Bobby Overman said this is her 10th year organizing this event.
“We host this event every year to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and celebrate the independence of many nations,” Overman said. “We try to change it a little each year, but keep the things people love, like music.”
Overman said this event is to both celebrate and educate. Monroe County Public Library offers bilingual storytelling and has many Spanish media selections available, and this event helps spread awareness of these resources and gets the community involved.
People were given a chance to share their stories about their culture and their families with the “My Culture, My Story” section.
Stories about immigrating to the United States were shared in the “My Culture, My Story” section. Some of these stories explained hardships and difficulties of being an immigrant, but many more told stories of happiness and cultural pride.
Lalo Vera, a La Casa volunteer and IU student, said his love for kids and for his culture inspired him to work this event and become more involved in the community.
“Before I came to IU, I was never really into my culture,” Vera said. “When I came here, I wanted to get involved and be around so many people that I shared interest and culture with. I like being involved with this because every culture has their own heritage, and this month we get to celebrate ours and our independence.”
Overman said this event was successful this year, like it has been most years in the past, and she is happy about the effect this celebration has on people.
“When people are smiling and happy that’s a good sign and what we hope for, so I think that it’s good when people leave happy and knowing something new,” Overman said.