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updated: 7/30/2011 6:32 PM

Music brings fun to Aurora Puerto Rican festival

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  • Director Israel Villodas, left, and Araceli Magana, members of Orquesta de Cuatro Fenix of East Chicago, Indiana, prepare to go onstage at the 40th annual Puerto Rican heritage festival in downtown Aurora.

      Director Israel Villodas, left, and Araceli Magana, members of Orquesta de Cuatro Fenix of East Chicago, Indiana, prepare to go onstage at the 40th annual Puerto Rican heritage festival in downtown Aurora.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Jessica Guzman sells clothing and other memorabilia during the 40th annual Puerto Rican heritage festival in downtown Aurora.

      Jessica Guzman sells clothing and other memorabilia during the 40th annual Puerto Rican heritage festival in downtown Aurora.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

 
 

"Hot and fun."

That's how 14-year-old Jalissa Torres of Montgomery described the Aurora Puerto Rican Heritage Festival she's attended for years.

And fellow festival goers agree.

The weather always is hot, and the festival's music, dancing and food always make it fun, said Anna Soto, 13, of Montgomery, who's attended the event "my whole 13 years."

Anna and Jalissa volunteered Saturday with the Aurora Puerto Rican Cultural Council, which is hosting the 40th annual festival.

Organizers worked to make this year special by bringing in musicians from Puerto Rico, hosting the festival's first carnival and incorporating traditions such as a dominoes tournament and a pig roast, said Mirna Lopez-Freitag, president of the Aurora Puerto Rican Cultural Council.

Anna said the taste of a roasted pork dish called Lechon is one of her favorite memories from Puerto Rican festivals past. As she volunteered with Jalissa and other friends, the pig roast's scent began to spread around the festival grounds.

Lopez-Freitag said she expects large crowds to flock to the festival during its two-day run, totaling 3,000 to 4,000 people.

Vendors sold jerseys, jewelry and other gifts decorated with the Puerto Rican Flag's single white star, blue background and red and white stripes.

Cyan Romero, 13, of Aurora, came to the festival decked out in a tank top designed like a Puerto Rican flag. She wasn't alone in showing spirit: Anna wore Puerto Rican flag earrings, while plenty of others sported T-shirts with the island's name as they sipped pina coladas and looked for a place in the shade.

Held in the newly paved North River Street parking lot at Vine Street, the festival was low on shade, but full of entertainment, making it exactly as Jalissa said, "Hot and fun."

The festival continues from 1:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday.

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