WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Puerto Rican community in Westfield is gearing up for its 28th annual ceremony to raise the flag of Puerto Rico.

Scheduled for Sunday, October 1st at 1 p.m., the event will take place in front of Westfield City Hall on 59 Court Street, followed by a cultural celebration at the YMCA of Greater Westfield. Notably, the celebration will also feature voter registration efforts.

Since 1995, the Puerto Rican community in Westfield has held this significant ceremony to hoist the Puerto Rican flag on the grounds of Westfield City Hall. The Westfield Puerto Rican Association (WEPRA) spearheads this tradition, using the occasion to celebrate their rich culture during National Hispanic Heritage Month and pay tribute to the pioneering families who settled in Westfield in the mid-20th century, establishing the Puerto Rican community in the area.

The ceremony will feature the official flag of Puerto Rico, and will be infused with patriotic spirit through the national anthems of both the United States and Puerto Rico, along with renditions of “La Borinqueña” performed by talented artists Adrian Colombani, Alisa Soto, and Ariana Roldan.

In a special honor, this year’s ceremony will recognize Mrs. Awilda Colombani, a successful businesswoman and a prominent figure in La Comunidad of St. Mary’s Church. Awilda’s story is one of resilience and determination, showcased through her successful business journey of three decades. She attributes her achievements to her unwavering faith and dedication. WEPRA salutes her for her perseverance, business success, devout religious life, and her invaluable contributions to family and community.

Following the flag-raising ceremony, the community is warmly invited to congregate at the YMCA for a traditional Puerto Rican meal, catered by Sabor Latino of Chicopee, with desserts prepared by members of the Westfield Latino community. The atmosphere will come alive with the beats of DJ Doug Sweeney. The indoor program will feature the cultural group Bomba de Aquí, known for promoting Afro-Puerto Rican traditions through captivating dance and music performances.

As an integral part of the event, community members will have the opportunity to engage in civic duties with voter registration facilitated by City Clerk Kaitlyn Bruce. Additionally, various organizations will be present, including Becky Gonzalez from En3rgy Up offering fresh organic juices and ginger shots, and the MA Urban Canopy extending an offer of free trees to downtown residents. An engaging raffle for a handcrafted dominos table made in Westfield, MA, organized by WEPRA, will add to the excitement of the day.

The annual Puerto Rican flag-raising ceremony not only honors heritage but also emphasizes civic engagement, bringing the community together in celebration and action, underscoring the essence of unity and pride.

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