NOTE: Fiesta Fridays is a special series to highlight the many memories I have of fiesta through the photographs I’ve taken since 2003.
Fiesta 2014 brought us a series of “firsts” to our event. One of the biggest was getting our “first” Title Sponsor. Our top-level of sponsorship had always been “Presenting” and we had toyed with the idea of having a Title Sponsor. The conversation ignited when Santiago Negre, Hispanic owner of numerous area McDonalds arrived in town. He is the type of person who gets involved in the community and found Fiesta a way to do just that. McDonalds had always been a Presenting Sponsor but this was the year we asked and he said “yes” to Title Sponsorship!
We were thrilled, to say the least! And in addition to taking the Title Sponsorship, Santiago also arranged to have the Fiesta Tour come to Birmingham. This was a tremendous coup for us as this tour typically only presents in the largest markets like Chicago, Los Angeles, and the like. The Fiesta tour – appropriately named (in our humble opinion) – is like a Latin Grammy Experience! It’s a 50 foot trailer exhibit with a walk through display of unique artifacts and memorabilia loaned by Latin musicians. You get to see items belonging to such artists as Jennifer Lopez, Celia Cruz, Jose Feliciano and Marc Anthony. It also features a live DJ, music kiosk and kiddie area with a photo center. The Fiesta tour was set up right at the entrance so attendees bought their ticket to the festival and could walk directly through the exhibit. It was such an exciting addition to Fiesta that year!
Another “first” was having a parade of flags, along with the flag ceremony and the Pledge of Allegiance at the event and this was thanks to the Girl Scouts of North Central Alabama. Marisela Mendez is a powerhouse of a woman (now retired) who was a huge force in engaging Hispanic girls and their families into scouting in our state. She arranged to have girl scouts from around the region attend Fiesta and dress in traditional costumes to carry the flags of Latino countries. She also had a group experienced in the presentation of the colors on hand, and in uniform to lead the event in the Pledge of Allegiance from the main stage. It was such a beautiful and colorful sight that year! The girls were gorgeous in their dresses and throughout the day I would see them around the park with their families enjoying the day.
At one point, I was next to the Coca Cola Main Stage with my daughter, Anna Marie, when we saw one of the girls twirling to the music. Her pink dress was floating as she twirled and she was clearly in her own little world with the music. Anna Marie and I began taking pictures of her when one of her friends saw us and decided to twirl with her. It was such a sweet moment and I’m so glad we caught it.
This was also the year we were able to grant a wish to a young Hispanic girl who was seriously ill and in Children’s Hospital of Alabama. She wanted to meet her favorite musical artist – El Dasa – and we arranged to make that happen with the help of Amado Santos, Patient Relations and Language Services Director. El Dasa was so gracious too. Jasmine – the young girl – was taken by wheelchair to his personal tour bus and along with her parents and brother, were able to meet him and have a short visit. The sweetest moment came when Jazmine gave him a drawing she made. It was of a pair of cowboy boots and a hat, similar to what he wears for his performances. He was so sweet to her, asking her about the drawing and other things that she enjoyed. He was truly interested in her and wanted to make this a good experience…that was clear. A local news station came out to cover the meeting and at the end, El Dasa posed for pictures with the family and the drawing before heading to the stage for his performance. I enjoyed being a “fly on the wall,” as they say and being able to witness this special meeting.
More to come so please come back next Friday to hear about Fiesta 2015!