London celebrations

New London recognizes Guatemalan Independence Day and start of Hispanic Heritage Month

London’s new Mayor Michael Passero, left, helps Candy Gregorio Cortez, right, and Cristina Vicente, back, raise the Guatemalan flag outside City Hall as members of the local Guatemalan community gather Gather to celebrate this nation’s Independence Day on Thursday September 15, 2022 at City Hall in New London. Passero read a proclamation declaring the month beginning Thursday as Hispanic Heritage Month in New London and presented certificates of appreciation to several of the guests. The Guatemalan flag was hoisted and the Guatemalan national anthem was sung. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day) Buy photo prints
The Guatemalan flag flies in front of New London City Hall as members of the local Guatemalan community gather to celebrate that nation’s Independence Day on Thursday, September 15, 2022 in New London. Mayor Michael Passero read a proclamation declaring the month beginning Thursday as Hispanic Heritage Month in New London and presented certificates of appreciation to several of the guests. The Guatemalan flag was hoisted and the Guatemalan national anthem was sung. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day) Buy photo prints
London’s new Mayor Michael Passero, left, reads a certificate for Candy Gregorio Cortez and other members of the local Guatemalan community, after raising the Guatemalan flag outside City Hall as part of the day’s celebration of this nation’s independence on Thursday, September 15, 2022 at New London Town Hall. Passero read a proclamation declaring the month beginning Thursday as Hispanic Heritage Month in New London and presented certificates of appreciation to several of the guests. The Guatemalan flag was hoisted and the Guatemalan national anthem was sung. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day) Buy photo prints
Cristina Vicente, right, and Lizbeth Polo-Smith, second from right, join other members of the local Guatemalan community in singing their national anthem to celebrate that nation’s Independence Day on Thursday, September 15, 2022 in New London Town Hall. Mayor Michael Passero read a proclamation declaring the month beginning Thursday as Hispanic Heritage Month in New London and presented certificates of appreciation to several of the guests. The Guatemalan flag was hoisted and the Guatemalan national anthem was sung. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day) Buy photo prints

New London ― The Guatemalan flag was raised for the first time at City Hall on Thursday as a small group gathered to celebrate the country’s Independence Day and the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

“The day commemorates the region’s independence from Spanish rule,” said Cristina Vicente, a recognized speaker at the event for her work in the community.

On September 15, 1821, the Central American Act of Independence granted Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras and El Salvador their independence from Spain. Independence Days are celebrated as Hispanic Heritage Month, from September 15 to October 15, in the United States.

Mujeres Entre Culturas, or Women Between Cultures, an alternative support group for and by women of Latin American descent, organized the event in collaboration with the city. The women’s group is founded and led by Lizbeth Polo-Smith and Esmeralda Amparo Bustamante, two community health workers and Peruvian immigrants.

“We have set ourselves the goal of showing our immigrant brothers and sisters that the City of New London welcomes them with open arms and is honored to be part of such an important celebration as the independence of their home country. This is something we want to do with all communities,” Bustamante said.

Polo-Smith said it was important to show the culture and traditions of different Hispanic countries. She said the Guatemalan community is hardworking and respectful.

Mayor Michael Passero spoke and presented certificates of appreciation to three Guatemalan women “for their leadership efforts and for encouraging others to do the same within the Guatemalan community of the City of New London “, he said while reading the certificate.

The three women awarded are Vicente, Candy Simaj Lobos and Candy Gregorio Cortez.

Polo-Smith said the recognized women are business owners and active members of the community, helping out in local food pantries.

Lobos owns Candy’s Chapina, a Guatemalan eatery at 181 Bank Street that opened two months ago.

“Estoy muy feliz. I’m really happy,” Lobos said. “I hope next year it will grow and become a bigger event. A lot of countries are being celebrated today and it would be nice to unite more Hispanics.

Cortez said Thursday was also a day of peace as Guatemala reflected on its many wars. Before moving to the United States three years ago, she recalled taking part in celebrations usually on the eve of Independence Day, September 14, where locals ran “to freedom” with torches in hand.

The torch symbolizes the journey of the messengers who brought the news of Guatemala’s independence to Cartago, the colonial capital of Costa Rica.

“It’s fun, you feel like a kid again,” Cortez said.

Lobos and Cortez, identifying as indigenous K’iche people, wore colorful traditional dresses originating from San Antonio Ilotenango, a municipality in the Guatemalan department of Quiché where they grew up.

Mayor Passero also announced a proclamation marking September 15 to October 15, 2022 as National Hispanic Heritage Month in the City of New London.

Reading the proclamation, he said, “The City of New London is celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month with the entire nation and we especially recognize the contributions and significant presence of Hispanics and Latinos in our city.”