The Fiesta de Verano, or Summer Festival, sponsored by Northeast DuPage Special Recreation Association, recently drew more than 200 people to Addison's Centennial Park.
Carnival games, a DJ playing Latin music, face-painting, and a dunk tank were among the main attractions of the event that was set among the park's playground for kids to enjoy. This second annual Hispanic family event aimed to increase awareness of NEDSRA's recreational programs for children with intellectual and physical disabilities.
Margarita Flores, president of NEDSRA's Hispanic Parent Focus Group that coordinated the event, explained the goal of the fiesta.
"We are hoping to get the word out about NEDSRA to Hispanic families so that they will encourage their kids who might have disabilities to participate in NEDSRA programs," she said. "This leads to higher expectations for our children."
Flores' son, Christopher, has participated in NEDSRA programs for the past 10 years.
The carnival games proved a big hit with the younger children as everyone received a small prize for frog-jumping, shuffleboard or the basketball toss.
The most popular event was the dunk tank. NEDSRA interns Megan Murphy and Rebecca Maurer, along with NEDSRA full-time staff member Lisa Barrera, all volunteered for a good soaking as several children were successful hitting their mark.
Nora Sandoval, one of NEDSRA's organizers of the event, has developed a strong rapport with the local Hispanic community.
"We had about a 30 percent increase in participation over last year," Sandoval said. "I think people feel comfortable now coming to NEDSRA events."
One of Sandoval's responsibilities at NEDSRA is to connect with the Hispanic community, as she speaks fluent Spanish and is of Mexican descent.
The food pavilion offered hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, nachos and watermelon. Plenty of water and juice were available during the hot Saturday afternoon. Local companies such as La Preferida, Addison grocer Jimenez Inc., and Elite Rehabilitation Institute donated food and beverages to defray the cost of the fiesta.
The Hispanic Parents Focus Group was honored in 2013 by the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association with a Community Service Award. The group is responsible for increasing participation in NEDSRA programs through its outreach work.
"The group is important to NEDSRA so we can connect with the parents of children with disabilities," Barrera said. "Families can rely on the group and NEDSRA as a resource for their particular situation. It also serves in developing strong community relationships."