By Clyde Hughes and Lisette Rosas | AC JosepH Media
MILLVILLE — From a rousing opening ceremony with New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy backed by the support of Millville’s first Latino Mayor Michael Santiago, the city’s Hispanic Heritage Day Parade and Celebration was a success by most any measure.
Standing next to Murphy and Santiago, the first Latino elected mayor of the city, the event was a proud moment for Ivelise “Eva” Perez, the event’s coordinator. Perez, who is running for Millville City Commission, saw the hard work by her and others turn into a gem for the local Hispanic community and Cumberland County in general.
“I’m honored to be here this morning and honored to see all of you,” Santiago said in an awards ceremony that kicked off the day’s activities. “We’re going to enjoy this day. God has given us a beautiful day to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Day.”
During the opening ceremony Sunday, Murphy said the impact the Latino community has had on the State of New Jersey has been “undeniable.”
“Whether it’s small businesses, culture, cuisine, education, commerce, in faith, whatever it might be, the impact is profound,” the governor said. “That includes right here in Millville and in Cumberland County.”
The appearance of Murphy, who is running for a second term as governor, brought statewide attention to the event.
“As we look forward to our state’s future — not just for the balance of this month, but for the months and years ahead — it is my guess that this parade will get bigger and stronger, as it will up and down our state. The impact of the Latino community on our state will get bigger and stronger,” Murphy continued.
After the opening ceremony, Murphy joined Santiago and other elected officials as they walked down High Street for the Hispanic Heritage Day parade. Elected officials joining him included Cumberland County Commissioners Joe Derella and Jim Quinn and Millville City Commissioner Bruce Cooper along with various candidates running for public office. The post-parade celebration took place at Lakeside Middle School.
Vendors lined the middle school’s athletic field, alongside many minority-owned businesses, organizations and nonprofits that serve the community. The day was filled with music and food as Millville got its chance to embrace local Latino culture.
Judging from the attention and crowd of participants, it looks like Millville’s first Hispanic Heritage Day Parade and Festival won’t be the last.
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