Annual African/Caribbean Celebration draws diverse crowd
MANCHESTER — Tony Mutombo relaxed on a patch of grass at Veterans Memorial Park and enjoyed the music and the celebration of his homeland during the 12th annual African/Caribbean Celebration on Saturday.
“It makes us feel we're appreciated here and they respect our culture,” said Mutombo, a refugee from the Congo who settled in Manchester in 2006.
“We feel welcome,” said the 2012 West High School grad.
Brenda Lett, a member of the event organizing committee, said that was the festival's main goal.
“We're excited to just to be able to share our culture,” Lett said. “We're standing on the shoulders of our ancestors. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be here.”
People could please their ears — and their tummies if they sampled local creations.
Johnathan Brandan and his mother, Vicky Mentor, were dishing out roasted pork, fried chicken and fried plantains.
The $1 beef empanadas “sell like crazy,” Brandan said.
Mutombo, at the event with about a dozen friends and family members, said his mother still makes many dishes from their native land, but added, “we have American dishes sometimes.”
The Manchester City Clerk's Office signed up nearly a dozen new voters in just over two hours, while the New England Black Nurses Association provided health screenings.
The American Red Cross, Stop & Shop and Triangle Credit Union were among others with tents promoting their services.
Cathy Romero of Manchester happened to come across the festival in the park.
“The people are nice here today. I'm enjoying all the surroundings. Free music, good band,” she said.
Shaqawanda Allen of Manchester came to see her friend perform a rap number on the big stage.
“I haven't walked around; it's too hot,” said Allen, who wasn't the only one seizing a spot of shade to beat the heat. “I see people dancing, which is good.”
Life & Culture
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