Saturday, April 20, 2024

Fuerza hosts Mardi Gras celebration

By Jessica Landman

The Warren Ballrooms at Angell College Center were decked out in green, purple and gold for the Mardi Gras-themed banquet hosted by Fuerza: Black and Latinx Student Union Oct. 13. 

This is the sixth annual banquet hosted by the club. At the event were performers, speakers and a catered buffet. 

Fuerza is a club that focuses on unifying African American and Latin American cultures under one network in an effort to abolish the ignorance, prejudice and racism against and between African Americans and Latin Americans within our communities according to the SUNY Plattsburgh website.

Leah Sweeney, the director of the event management office, said, “It took about five hours yesterday to do the bulk of it, and then we had to come in today to do a couple more hours.” 

The lighting and sound systems alone take a lot of practice and training.  

Jeidy Aloi and Isabella Rodriguez are students who are members of Fuerza and helped organize the event. The club always has a week of events in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, which spans from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. This year, some events besides the banquet were Hispanic Heritage Jeopardy and Guerra de los Sexos.

“We’re doing a Mardi-Gras theme because in Latin American culture, it’s referred to as carnival, so that’s what we decided on this year,” Aloi said.

 Aloi also said that the entertainment provided at the event came entirely from student-run organizations. The student-run dance teams Spicy Island Tings and High Voltage performed. Also at the event were a pianist named Evans D’Pulpit and a DJ. 

Spicy Island Tings is a Caribbean dance group at SUNY Plattsburgh. Originating from Club Caribbean, it was founded in 1985. Spicy Island Tings decided to perform at the banquet to support the Hispanic members of their dance group.    

The choreographer of this group, Thoneisha Belle, is a senior majoring in psychology and minoring in criminal justice. 

“Performing at an event like this celebrates our differences because a lot of people don’t celebrate the Hispanic side of the Caribbean as well, like Puerto Rico and [the Dominican Republic],” Belle said. “I really think this means a lot to celebrate our culture and supporting our dancers that are from those Caribbean Islands as well.”      

The club also dedicates time at the banquet to teach attendees about Hispanic heritage and culture, as well as to explain the significance that Mardi Gras holds. 

“Overall, our goal with this year’s theme was to celebrate who all of us are as individuals — our different backgrounds — and celebrate life,” Rodriguez said.

An event as large as Fuerza’s annual banquet takes collaboration from the lighting sound technicians, the catering crew, the moving crew and many other people who put a great deal of time and work into setting up and executing an event such as this one. 

The hard work of everyone involved in this event allowed Fuerza to host a successful banquet to honor Hispanic Heritage Month.

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