Celebrating las Americas at our Pachanga de las Americas!

Photo: Martha Benedict

This Saturday October 5th, the Audubon Center at Debs Park held its first Pachanga de las Americas.  Our Pachanga – or party – celebrated our community connection to cultures from all across the Americas through dance, music, food, story sharing, and of course, birds!

Between September 15th and October 15th, the United States celebrates “National Hispanic Heritage Month” or “National Latino Heritage Month,” highlighting the incredible contributions the Hispanic and Latino communities have made to the country’s history, heritage, and culture.  (Fun fact: Hispanic Heritage Month was actually established through legislation written by Rep. Edward R. Roybal – a fellow Angeleno!) We knew that, as a Center working in Northeast Los Angeles with a majority Latino community, we wanted to do something to celebrate our culture here at the Audubon Center at Debs Park. 

Our staff was excited to begin planning an event where we could celebrate our favorite foods, listen to our favorite music, and show off our national dances.  During this planning, we learned that the term “Latino” has been used to negate and erase the experience of the Indigenous community not only in the Southwestern United States, but throughout the Americas as a whole.  Rather centering this Pachanga around the Latino community, we decided to create a celebration of cultures from all across the Americas!

So how was the Pachanga?  Over 150 community members showed up to participate in bird hat making workshops, t-shirt screenprinting, succulent potting, dance workshops, story sharing sessions and more!  We were proud to highlight 6 birds that migrate from different regions in Latin America stopping in Los Angeles for a quick break during their migration:

  • Yellow-rumped Warbler from Mexico
  • Belted Kingfisher from Central America
  • Common Yellowthroat from the Caribbean
  • Least Sandpiper from Upper South America
  • Osprey from Central South America
  • Barn Swallow from Lower South America

Through these birds, our community mapped their own migration story to Los Angeles and repped their regions through bird hats made at a workshop with Arroyo Arts Collective at the Pachanga de las Americas.  It was so cool to walk around the Center and everyone wearing the bird hat that corresponded to their region. There was information on each of these birds such as their migration paths, diet, habitat, and other fun facts to give people an opportunity to connect with their regional bird. We put birds on t-shirts too!  Art students from Sotomayor Learning Academy created and printed 4 different t-shirt designs, featuring birds found at the Audubon Center at Debs Park such as the Anna’s Hummingbird, Red-tailed Hawk, Wilson’s Warbler, and the Barn Swallow.  Our Pachanga de las Americas was a great opportunity to get some unique bird gear!

An important piece of our Pachanga de las Americas was sharing the stories and traditions of all the different cultures in the Americas – whether it be dance, food, or stories.  Throughout our Pachanga, we hosted Story Sharing Sessions with Latino Outdoors where Indigenous and Latino members of our community spoke about their experiences in the conservation movement or in the outdoors.  We recorded these stories and we’ll be posting them on our website by the end of the month so that everyone can listen and learn from these experiences.  Our Pachanga featured 2 dance performances from across the Americas. These dances are historically used to tell stories. The first was Danza Azteca, from Mexico – it was performed by students from Anahuacalmecac University Prep.  We also held a Forro Dance workshop, from Northern Brazil – performed by Andrea Lopasso and Yuki Shimotakahara.  Visitors got a chance to learn both Danza Azteca and Forro at our Pachanga – everyone was welcome on the dancefloor!

Other activities included a live birds of prey show presented by Nature of Wildworks, a succulent potting workshop with materials provided by Ponderosa Cactus, and a bird banding game by National Parks Service.  There was activities for kids and families of all ages!

Overall, we had a blast at our Pachanga de las Americas!  We’re so grateful to all of our partners – Alma Family Services, Latino Outdoors, Arroyo Arts Collective, Mujeres de la Tierra, National Parks Service, Anahuacalmecac University Prep, and Sotomayor Learning Academy. We couldn’t have done it without their incredible collaboration and community outreach.  We’d also like to thank La Tehuanita, Ponderosa Cactus, and Maracas Café and Catering for their sponsorship. We loved engaging with our community and sharing cultural traditions with each other, learning about birds and getting down on the dance floor.  Latino Heritage Month continues through October 15th, but here at the Audubon Center at Debs Park we celebrate cultures from all over the Americas every day! Interested in participating? Check out upcoming events – including Bilingual Bird Walks and Nature Arts + Crafts Workshops – in our Events page!

Still not ready to stop celebrating Latino Heritage Month?  Check out our Pachanga Playlist on Spotify and relive some of the best memories of the day! 

How you can help, right now