Ceremony: The closing ceremony for Hispanic Heritage Month will be held at City Hall. Courtesy image

On Friday, the Santa Monica community is invited to a closing ceremony for the city’s first Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. The event will be held in front of City Hall at 3:30 p.m.

The goal of the Hispanic Heritage Month’s Steering Committee was to emphasize and celebrate the diversity of all Hispanic people, beginning with this month-long celebration, and to build on that momentum throughout the year.

“I believe that we started the conversation and this is only the beginning where people will become a program for further relationship building,” Steering Committee member Donald Zelaya said. “One of the goals, though, is not only in a transactional manner but to build relationships and develop them. So even though we feel very successful about educating the community, and starting those seeds, we believe that they need to be nurtured, continued to be developed, so that they can prosper, so we know that this is only the beginning.”

The Hispanic Heritage Month Planning Committee will present 13 distinguished Santa Monicans from the community with awards for their leadership and dedication to Santa Monica. Awardees were nominated by fellow residents, community members, and colleagues over the last month.

The idea behind Santa Monica’s first Hispanic Heritage Month celebration was a total team effort and in large part due to the pandemic.

“This event was born from us wanting to feel seen and wanting to be empowering, but also just reflecting on how difficult these times have been, especially for Latinos, and our first responders and children, really feeling like a due diligence to say what they need to have is their moment in the spotlight. So I think that that’s really what drove us, and even though there’s six of us that have been really kind of that steering committee, we cannot say enough of the contributions and other members in the organization who’ve helped us,” Zelaya said. “Whether it was setting up, whether it was stuffing bags, coming out at the closer or whether it was helping us find talent or, you know, just being supportive and reaching out to different organizations.”

Friday closes out the series of events that kicked off on Sept. 15. The month-long series included virtual discussions, movie screenings, literary events, night market, cultural dance and music, and so much more.

“The Latino community is one that sometimes, you know, may be overlooked, but we definitely want to make the closer and this month something that’s unforgettable,” Zelaya said. “So that’s really what we’re hoping to drive through to the end, so it’s been a very rewarding experience and I think that’s something that we hope will leave an impression on the fabric of the city.”

For more information, visit www.santamonica.gov/hispanic-heritage-month-2021.