When we think about winter holiday traditions celebrated in Buffalo, along commercial districts, we tend to think of the two heavy hitters – Elmwood and Hertel – as well as a couple of the up and comers – Amherst Street and Grant Street. These are districts that set out to light their trees, decorate their windows, offer holiday walks, serve up hot chocolate to customers, etc. Allentown and Larkinville are other good examples.
This morning I got a call from Casimiro “Cas” D. Rodriguez, who is a staunch advocate for the lower Niagara Street corridor. Over the last couple of years, Cas, along with a number of other supporters, has been able to get a lot of heavy lifts off the ground along this Gateway Corridor, including murals, garitas, waymarking signs, buffalo statues, and a historic clock (learn more here). Niagara Street, also known as “Avenida San Juan”, is not only considered the gateway to downtown Buffalo, it’s also the gateway to Canada.
When Cas called, he told me that he felt that it was imperative to keep up the Niagara Street momentum throughout the course of the entire year, not just in the warmer months. That’s why he is helping to organize the inaugural Parranda Buffalo: Celebración de la Luces. Essentially, this is a Hispanic tradition that is part carnival-like street party, and part festival of lights. The event will include Caribbean caroling – carolers will walk from business to business, singing festive traditional songs along the way. In years to come, Cas wants to grow the tradition, by adding more lights, and more festivities, so that the celebration becomes one that people from all around the region will attend. Then it will truly be a carnival-like street party!
“As a community we are very fortunate to be strategically located where so many visitors cross the peace bridge from Canada to the US, to see a game, to go to Canalside, or downtown Buffalo for business,” said Cas. “And the first main avenue to get to their destination is the Niagara Corridor. We are very proud of our community and we want to showplace the street as one of the attractions in the City of Buffalo to visit and learn about of Hispanic history and traditions.”
Already, Christmas Ornaments have been hung on the street lamp posts. Next year, the plan is to have a large Christmas tree at Exit/Access of the I-190 Niagara & Virginia Street, where the “buffalos” are grazing.
Celebrators are invited to bring their collective vocal prowess, and their musicians (guitar, marracas, guiro… if they have them) to 448 Niagara Street on Saturday, December 15 (starting at 5pm), which is about when the caroling will commence. The festivities will wrap up with everyone enjoying cups of hot chocolate.
The Inaugural Parranda Buffalo: Celebración de la Luces is sponsored by the Hispanic Heritage Council of WNY. See Facebook event.