Guatemalan Merchant Association of Mercer County President Estuardo Arriola recalls the first ethnic celebration
Estuardo Arriola strolled through Columbus Park in the city’s Chambersburg section yesterday and remembered his first Guatemalan Parade & Festival.
“The first one,” Arriola said, tilting his head slightly backward and raising his eyes, “we hoped that we would get 500 people to show up. And then the festival started and we were looking at 5,000. We got through but honestly, we never imagined such a turnout.”
Arriola, president of the Guatemalan Merchant Association of Mercer County, said his first experience served as a great teaching moment and his group gets more educated during each event. The fifth celebration occurs Sunday in Columbus Park from 1 p.m. until 8:30 p.m.
Organizers have added lights as the celebration presses into evening hours. Arriola smiled about a small Guatemalan dream that morphed into a major occasion.
“And we’re ready for a great parade and festival on Sunday. We have lots of vendors, performers and a security detail that includes four police officers. We want people to come out and enjoy Guatemalan culture. This is a celebration that invites everyone.”
Arriola called the festival an opportunity for people to enjoy music, food and pageantry.
“It’s important for people to know that everyone’s welcome,” Elmer Sandoval, an advisor for the Guatemalan Merchant Association of Mercer County.
“But Latinos? We’re not trying to be separate from the community. We want to be part of, enjoying everything this country has to offer. We want to share this parade and festival.”
The parade begins at Franklin Park then eventually reaches Hamilton Ave. for the park party.
Arriola said the Festival will feature a park packed with food vendors and stage acts throughout the day.
Estuardo Arriola (right) president of the Guatemalan Merchant Association of Mercer County and Elmer Sandoval, an advisor, discussed Sunday’s Guatemalan Parade & Festival at city’s Columbus Park.