The Canyon Country Community Center’s “Celebrate” series doesn’t appear to be waning in popularity as this month’s event drew in hundreds of people on Friday.
The event was the second in a continuing series the community center hosts, which is designed to highlight and bring awareness to the different cultures that make up Santa Clarita. This month’s event was the center’s first attempt at hosting a multicultural event, as the last “Celebrate” focused solely on Polynesian culture.
Santa Clarita officially has two sister cities — Tena, Ecuador, and Sariaya, Philippines — but the event also added Matsudo, Japan, as a featured culture.
Casey Miller, event organizer for the city, said this was all done in collaboration with the Santa Clarita Sister Cities organization, which acts as an international business and cultural liaison for the city.
“So this event, we’ve partnered with Santa Clarita Sister Cities, which is a local nonprofit, and they partner with cities abroad that are similar to Santa Clarita,” said Miller. “Sister Cities has partnered with Tina, Ecuador, and Sariaya, Philippines, and so that’s what you’re seeing today is a celebration of those cultures.”
Since this month’s event featured multiple cultures and had much more ambition than its previous installment, Miller said the city went to great lengths to make sure that every culture represented in the event was depicted accurately.
“It has been a challenge trying to authentically represent both cultures and do justice to both because they are very different,” Miller said in reference to the Ecuadorian and Filipino cultures that were featured. “And how we’ve kind of done that is by asking community members, that are experts in that culture or are from that culture, just to be sure that we are representing the culture as authentically as possible.”
Eric Ramirez, a Filipino-American and attendee of the event, said he felt like the event was an accurate depiction of his culture and that he’s glad the city is bringing awareness to it.
“I think it’s great because predominantly, it’s white in Santa Clarita. So you know, to have a mix of this type of culture would be beneficial for everyone,” said Ramirez. “And it shares the information about who we are and what we do.”
Ramirez also said that it’s important for people in the community to not just learn about Filipino culture, but also about all Asian cultures and that this event is only an introduction into them.
“I mean, there’s a whole lot more. There’s a bigger side to our culture alone. But this is kind of like a taste of what it is,” said Ramirez.
Similar to last month’s “Celebrate,” this event had music and dance performed by Japanese, Ecuadorian and Filipino artists. It also catered both authentic and fusion food such as sushi, Ecuadorian coffee, and Filipino delicacies.
Events for kids included making a “parol,” which is made of thin paper or cellophane. A parol is often hung by Filipinos outside of windows or on balconies and represents the star of Bethlehem. Another Filipino cultural monument at the event was a “Jeepney,” which attendees could step inside of and take pictures in. A Jeepney is a Filipino taxi that looks like a small bus and is decorated in vibrant colors “as loud as their engines,” according to event information.
Kids also could try out a “blow gun,” a traditional hunting method used by Ecuadorians in the forests of the Amazon Jungle.
While explaining next month’s event, Miller said she was satisfied with the way this one turned out.
“I think it’s the best thing on this side of town, best new thing on this side of town,” said Miller. “I think people are really enjoying it, and we’re loving the turnout.”
The next “Celebrate” event will be on June 3 and will highlight Indian culture.