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Aurora Festival Celebrates Puerto Rican Culture in Chicago – Chicago Tribune

Puerto Rican pride was on full display at Sunday’s 50th celebration of the Aurora Puerto Rican Festival.

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, members of the Aurora Puerto Rican Cultural Council went all out to organize an event to honor the 50 years the festival has been celebrated.

Iris Miller, president of the Aurora Puerto Rico Cultural Council, said: “A beautiful day makes a big difference and everything is running smoothly.”

The one-day festival was held at Water Street Square across from City Hall in downtown Aurora. The City of Aurora and the Aurora Puerto Rico Cultural Council held a Puerto Rican Flag Hoisting Ceremony the day before the festival at Wanhe Aurora Plaza downtown.

The festival’s 50th year is a momentous one, said Clayton Muhammad, Aurora’s Chief Communications and Equity Officer.

“The small group that started Puerto Rico’s festival in 1972 received a letter from President Richard Nixon, showing their resilience by being in Aurora 50 years later. The quality of what we produce is very high,” Muhammad said.

According to organizers, the event featured traditional Puerto Rican music, an activity area for children, a beer garden, authentic Puerto Rican cuisine, pina coladas and ice cream for sale.

In addition to entertainment and food, this year the Aurora Puerto Rican Cultural Council awarded $20,000 in multicultural education scholarships at the festival.

The Feliciano family, who run family-owned El Puerco Loco de Poncho, were at the event offering freshly seasoned roasted pork slices with their own flavorful seasonings on Puerto Rican rice. .

Festival-goers immediately lined up for the roasted pig.

Poncho Feliciano of El Puerco Loco de Poncho has been roasting pigs at Aurora for about 30 years, he said.

“I appreciate Puerto Rican music and food,” said Feliciano. “It’s a festival that makes you feel like you’re back on the island.”

My family helps me with the business.

“My father prepares special seasonings the night before. He cooks the pigs in the rotisserie for about five hours,” says Luis Feliciano of his father’s expertise.

“I would probably eat two whole pigs in about four hours,” he said.

Luis Feliciano said it was hard not having his family at the festival during the first two years of the pandemic.

“My father is relieved to be here,” he said. “He’s been doing this since before I was born. When he had to stop cooking, it hurt his main income. It’s a blessing to be back.”

Festival attendees were able to get their hands on ice-cold Medallite, a Puerto Rican beer, for the first time since it was recently made available in Illinois, organizers said.

“Medara has been in Illinois for the last four months and was able to bring it to the festival,” Miller said.

Aurora’s neighbors Margo Delgado and Angie Emerick were celebrating Puerto Rican traditions at the festival.

“I’m grateful to be able to see family and friends I haven’t seen in three years because of the pandemic,” Delgado said.

They thank the organizers for hosting the event in downtown Aurora this year.

“It’s important to maintain our Puerto Rican heritage in Aurora,” said Delgado.

The women grew up in Puerto Rico and eventually made Aurora their home.

“Many Puerto Ricans have moved, but we want to stay here and share our culture and heritage. The island is beautiful. It’s where the sea and sky come together.” Delgado said.

Domingo Barbosa has come from Shorewood to enjoy the festival in Aurora.

“I was born in Puerto Rico. I feel at home. I’m glad the festival is back,” said Barbosa.

Some festival-goers were quite emotional about the event’s revival.

Christy Rosado of Aurora said:

Joliet’s Kathy Sanchez enjoyed a non-alcoholic pina colada at the event.

“It’s great to see such an elaborate and cultural event in Aurora for Puerto Ricans,” Sanchez said. increase.”

Aurora artist Johnny Felix showcased his artistry at the festival on Sunday.

“The festival brings a fresh vibe to Aurora,” Felix said. “Puerto Ricans are family-oriented, they love to have fun, they love baseball. It’s part of the tradition we inherited from our grandparents.”

Linda Girardi is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.

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