Arce Family Reunion members were told that a special group, Los Hibaros del Campo, was coming to sing. The theme of the reunion was Celebrando Nuestra Musica (Celebrating our Music). After a traditional Puerto Rican feast, organizer Loida Arce Acosta, Orlando, Florida, and others went to a back room, changed and exited the rear of the building. They came back in the front door singing Spanish Christmas songs with traditional instruments and dress.
25 years of Norsk Hostfest North Dakota Norwegians have planned a big party and you’re invited. The 25th anniversary of Norsk Hostfest promises to be one of the parties of the year with big name acts like Bill Cosby, Tim Conway, Wayne Newton and Lee Greenwood, just to name a few.
Festivities take place in Minot, North Dakota, from October 9 to 12th. The fest includes Scandinavian history, ethnic bands, numerous entertainers and games. There are games and attractions for kids, or the young at heart. Craftmaking and anything Scandinavian and ethnic will be found at the event. The fee for most big name entertainment is $35.
Contact: Norsk Hostfest, PO Box 1347, Minot ND 58702; 701-852-2368; 701-838-7873 (fax); email@example.com; www.hostfest.com.
A Luna fest
by Cesar Garza
The stated objective for the Luna Family Reunion is to celebrate heritage, culture, history and family pride and unity.
Adrian and Maria Luna were married in 1905. They had 17 children, eight of whom survived to adulthood. Today there are over 700 descendants, 300 of them in the Chicago area and the rest scattered throughout the United States, Mexico, Germany and Japan. Almost half are under the age of 25, and 89 are under the age of 10. In the past 20 years, 6.7 family members have been born per year. During 77 years in Chicago, the family intermarried with many other ethnic groups.
Preparations for the Luna Family Reunion 2001 took a year. A committee was created from ten branches of the Luna family. At mini-reunions, committee members brought a dish to share with everyone at each meeting. The committee decided upon a three-day celebration which would give members plenty of time to meet families traveling from Mexico and California. Volunteers were recruited to plan activities. Some were in charge of the banquet hall, DJ, registration and picnic activities planned for Saturday. Members brought their favorite dishes to share for one of the biggest potlucks many of us had seen. We had frijoles a la charra, rice, carnitas, arroz con candules, lasagna, potato salad, cake, tortillas, arrachera, hot dogs, hamburgers, ribs and many other delicious American, Mexican, Polish, Italian, Puerto Rican, and German dishes that represent the Lunas multiculturalism.
The weekend started Friday with a glamorous banquet in Crestwood, Illinois. Over 200 family members enjoyed a great evening of food, dance and excitement, meeting new relatives and catching up with the old. During the evening the family danced to House Music, Cumbias, Nortenas, Merengue, Salsa, Pop Music, Spanish Rock, Rancheras and Tejano Music.
The theme was “We are Family: The Luna Legacy Continues.” Adrian and Maria would not have imagined the legacy they left, and the family of over 700 descendants keeps growing. The oldest family member at the reunion was 88-year-old Esperanza Luna; youngest was Estefania de la Torre, only one month old.
On Saturday temperatures hovered over 90. Some members arrived early to set up. Taking the group photo of approximately 350 family members preceded a day full of fun with the annual tug-of-war, softball, piñatas, baby races, hoola-hoop competition, potato sack races, water balloon fights, baseball and football, as well as games for small children. The tug-of-war brought everyone together. There were competitions for women, men and children. Everyone seemed to have fun whether they lost or won. It was not about losing or winning but about having an enjoyable time. A talent show showcased family members. The younger children danced to el Jarape Tapatio, the most typical dances in Mexico. Others sang Spanish and English music.
Sunday morning everyone enjoyed a Catholic Mass at St. Francis of Assisi parish, where in the 1920s the first Luna immigrants put down roots. It is where the oldest Lunas were married and baptized. It is also special because in 1992 this church was ready for destruction, but survived urban renewal as an historic church to Chicago’s Mexican population. After Mass, Esperanza Luna — the one who settled in the old neighborhood — gave a tour of where the family lived.
After the walking tour, we headed for Original Jim's hot dog stand to have the famous Maxwell Street polish sausages; for many family members it has been a tradition to snack on these sausages, some of the best in the city. Nearby a blues band was playing, so we went and danced. The band realized that the majority of the people were Mexican, so they changed their tunes to Spanish.
After all the dancing, we showed our beautiful city to our family from a rented double-decker bus. Both Mexican and American flags hung from the top deck. We strolled along Greek Town, State Street, Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive. There was a quick stop to take a family picture with Chicago’s beautiful skyline in the background. Coming back after the bus tour was the sad part of the reunion, as the three-day reunion was coming to an end.
Future plans include another reunion in Chicago. The following year there will be two reunions, one in Chicago and a Monterrey mega-family reunion where members from Monterrey, Guanajuato and Mexico City will predominate. Lunas living in the US will have an opportunity to learn more about the culture and country their great-grandparents left. About the author
César Garza is a Program Evaluation Specialist the Chicago Mayor's Office of Workforce Development. A native of Chicago's Little Village neighborhood, he holds a BA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has completed graduate coursework at Chicago State University. He is an active member of the Chicago Historical Society.
You can go home again
Diversity is the cornerstone of America but too often ethnicity and race are politicized, polarized and romanticized. Ignoring differences, trying to boil them away in the big melting pot aggravates social fragmentation. Instead of glossing over the strong pull of tradition – long after immigration – reunions put those values to work, binding strong families and communities.
These are examples of reunions who honor their backgrounds and origins. Every family has much of celebrate in the richness of their history.
Hot fish featured at Cornish Cousins gathering by Flora Toms O'Hagan
Cornish Cousins from the US, Canada and Cornwall gathered in Ely, Minnesota, where their forebearers had brought their mining expertise in the 1880s. Cornwall is the narrow southwestern edge of England tipped by Land's End. Cornwall's St. Piran's flag flew at Ely's city hall with the American flag.
Workshops dominated daytime activities followed each evening with entertainment. Wonderfully talented cousins from Cornwall included musician and poet Bert Biscoe, Sue Hill of the Kneehigh Theatre, Dr. Philip Payton, director of the Institute of Cornish Studies at the University of Exeter and Chris Blount of BBC Radio Cornwall. All shared the excitement of what it means to be Cornish.
In addition to her theatre work, Sue Hill works in Cornish communities to revitalize old celebrations or invent new ones. Her hands-on workshops for children of all ages created "a shoal of fish lanterns." Willow branches were bent and shaped into fish skeletons, then covered with wet strength tissue paper saturated in glue.
Candles were mounted in the lanterns for a hot fish parade in Ely in the style of an annual Cornish procession which celebrates a story about a man without kin or wife who set out into stormy waters to catch fish to feed his starving village of Mousehole. Villagers lit his way to shore with lanterns. This miracle of food is celebrated on December 23rd with Starry Gazey pie with seven different kinds of fish. About the author Flora Toms O'Hagan is the granddaughter of a Cornish mining Captain who came to northern Minnesota in 1895. She was born and raised in Ely, Minnesota. Chairing the 9th Gathering of Cornish Cousins made her increasingly aware of her heritage and introduced her to the strong spirit of the Cornish. Flora and her husband Robert, both retired educators, live in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
More Cornish cousins ... Membership is open to anyone interested in the history and culture of Cornwall in the Cornish American Heritage Society.Ron Carbis, 13 Saint Ives Place, Gaithersburg, MD 20877-3457; firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit www.cousinjack.org.
Czech and Slovak heritage Vitáme vás (welcome) will greet you at the new National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library modeled after elements common to buildings in the Czech Republic. Dedicated to preserving and educating about Czech and Slovak ancestors and contributions, there are exhibits, demonstrations and tours. There are facilities for reunion groups, as well as family and business memberships. Contact the museum at 30 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids IA 52404; 319-362-8500.
The American Indian Institute "serving North American Indian tribes of the US and First Nations of Canada" has a Web at www.occe.ou.edu/aii. It is updated continually and includes Institute history, current projects and grants, publications, videos and conferences.
Profile in courage
One cold January day in 1888, John J. Cummings walked nine miles in a blinding blizzard to buy medicine for his ailing one-year-old daughter, then, walked back home. His beard and clothing caked with ice, Cummings found his way by following railroad tracks that ran past his Blunt, South Dakota, farm. Happily, the child recovered.
Over 111 years later, Cummings' heroics were remembered during a family reunion at Milwaukee's Irish Fest, the world's largest festival celebrating all things Irish. Cummings' father, Hugh, immigrated from County Waterford, Ireland in 1849 and settled in southwestern Wisconsin. Photos of John and his daughter, with a 1950 newspaper article describing his snowy ordeal, were among displays featured at the reunion.
"I heard the story through the years," said Joan Cummings about her great uncle's courage. "It's a very touching story."