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Latinopalooza celebrates early Cinco de Mayo, emphasizes diversity

Latino Awareness Week wrapped up on Saturday with Latinopalooza, an event intended to raise awareness for Latino culture and to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

The event on University Lawn featured a bounce house, piñatas, a disc jockey and traditional Mexican pastries.

While Cinco de Mayo is May 5, it has traditionally been celebrated in April at the University, said Yolanda Flores, the Latino Networking Alliance treasurer.

By May 5, it is either exam week or time for commencement, so the turnout would be lower.

Latinopalooza was the largest event of Latino Awareness Week, said Juan Pimiento, president of Latino Student Union. It was also LSU’s final event for the semester.

Pimiento said this event was aimed for the community and kids as well as University students. Because Saturday was Preview Day, it was also a chance to show prospective students the Latino culture at the University.

“[We’re] pushing the education aspect … by showing the fun aspect,” Pimiento said.

Multiple people brought their children to take advantage of that fun.

“I like that they always integrate kids’ areas,” said Carmen Alvarez, an instructor in romance and classical studies.

She brought her three-year-old son and her daughter who is almost two. She has brought them in the past and they always like the piñatas and bounce house, she said.

Dorinda Contreras lives in Bowling Green and brought her children out for the activities as well.

“I like that it’s free,” she said.

She also liked that she could let her children have some freedom while being able to see them wherever they went.

“Everyone is really kind to them,” she said.

There was also a cultural reason Contreras brought her children. Their father is from Argentina, so she wanted to give them an opportunity to enjoy Latino culture.

Though Latino Awareness Week is LSU’s event, multiple organizations helped plan or support Latinopalooza.

LSU and the Latino Networking Alliance have always collaborated for Cinco de Mayo, said Ray Plaza, associate director of Multicultural Affairs and co-adviser to LSU.

Multicultural Affairs assisted by promoting Latino Awareness Week events. Sigma Lambda Beta, a Latino-based fraternity, and Sigma Lambda Gamma, a Latina-based multicultural sorority, supported the event.

Multiple leaders emphasized the importance of awareness and diversity.

“This University is known for its diversity … I still don’t see that,” said Alexis Lopez, president of Sigma Lambda Beta. “Events like these are essential to the campus.”

Mayra Lopez, president of Sigma Lambda Gamma, agreed that more awareness is needed in this area.

“Especially in northwest Ohio, the Latino culture is not seen a lot,” she said.

Pimiento also commented on Latino as a culture.

“Latino is not really a race,” he said. “We’re a very diverse group of people.”​

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