Facilities Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Dancing horses and performances by Aztec dancers were among the highlights.

Several Oregon Youth Authority facilities hosted Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations recently to connect Hispanic youth with their roots and help non-Hispanic youth learn to respect other cultures.

MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn has held Hispanic heritage events for multiple years. At this year’s event, youth and their families shared food and watched lively traditional dances performed by Ballet Folklórico Tlanese from Salem.

Artist Jesus Torralba and Morpheus Youth Project executive director Carlos Chavez painted a mural during the event.

Youth in MacLaren’s Aztec Group also performed traditional dances. For about an hour, several youth kept up nearly constant drumming while the rest danced in colorful handmade garb that included feather headdresses and ankle rattles made of dried seed pods.

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Several weeks later, Tillamook Youth Correctional Facility and Camp Tillamook Youth Transitional Facility held their first-ever Hispanic heritage celebration. Tony Kornegay, superintendent at Tillamook YCF; Jim Sapper, Camp Tillamook director; and Kasandra Rodriguez, a group life coordinator at the facilities, provided a lot of support to make the event happen.

The most surprising thing at their event? Dancing horses. Oregon Youth Authority extends many thanks to Samuel Garcia Rodriguez for bringing in the horses.

Youth and their families enjoyed a traditional lunch, and one family taught the youth how to make ice cream.

Attendees also were treated to performances from a ballet folklórico group from Hillsboro, Mexico en la Piel. Omar Hernandez Cortez, who owns a store in Tillamook called La Veracruzana, generously donated the money to bring the dancers to the event.

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Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility and the Young Women’s Transition Program in Albany — OYA’s two female facilities — also held a Hispanic heritage celebration.

The event included traditional food, along with performances by Ballet Folklórico Tlanese and chinelo dancers Comparsa Orgullo Morelense.

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