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Indiana celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with festivals, concerts

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Latinos and Hispanic Hoosiers and many others in Indiana will be coming together to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month beginning today through Oct. 15.

This month is a chance to celebrate the many contributions, diverse cultures, and the histories of these communities.

“I’m just excited to see what this month has to offer and I love seeing all the community spirit of all the many festivals and celebrations that are happening,” the community outreach and fan engagement manager of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Luisa Macer, said.

“When you see a population, you see a power of purchase contributing to the economy, paying taxes, opening more businesses, [and] hiring more individuals, so the economy just keeps moving like a snow effect,” the president and CEO of the Indiana Latino Institute, Marlene Dotson, said.

“We’re trying and we’re doing our best to keep tradition alive, and I think that’s what this celebration is about,” the director of education policy at the Indiana Latino Institute, Rachel Santos, said.

Some are immigrants and others have multiple generations of family history in the United States.

“People forget that Latinos are a part of building the state, so when I think of my own experience and my family’s experience, like my great great grandpa worked on the Indiana railroad, I know that’s a different experience, but it’s still a reminder that Latinos have been here for a long time,” Santos said.

According to the U.S. Census, in 2020, Hispanic or Latino Hoosiers made up 8.2% of the population.

In the immigrant community, some of them come from countries such as Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, El Salvador, Brazil, and Costa Rica. A lot of them will be celebrating this month with festivals and concerts.

“It’s just a diverse community that we come from different countries, backgrounds, or immigrants that are just traveling, coming from these beautiful countries,” Dotson said.

“It’s just really important that we are intentional about celebrating our community and understanding that there are so many different stories when it comes to being Latino in the state of Indiana and our country,” Santos said.

At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Mexican-American community outreach and fan engagement manager, Luisa Macer, says the Racing Capital of the World is also seeing an impact.

“We have Juan Pablo Montoya, we have Helio Castroneves, Pato O’Ward who really are just bringing some diversity into our sport, so it’s really neat to see when we’re able to see those fans connect with drivers,” Macer said. “The leadership here is very supportive of the many initiatives and causes, and so to be able to be a voice for our Hispanic community here at IMS is truly, I feel special.”

Preparations for Hispanic Heritage Month events like the Indiana Latino Institute’s Lighting of the Circle have already begun. Everyone is invited to attend. The event begins at 7 p.m. It’ll take place at the Monument Circle. In addition to the celebration, children and youth are invited to participate in a costume contest highlight historic Latinos across the world.