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ORANGE WEST, NJ – The following article is courtesy of Joe Fagan, City of West Orange Historian. Learn more about posting announcements or events to your local Patch site.

Hispanic Heritage Month kicked off at West Orange Town Hall on October 1 with deep cultural elements and special historical significance. All the flags of Latin American countries were paraded one by one and placed on a special podium creating a colorful display. They graced the steps of the town hall as thunderous unifying applause was delivered for each country. Speeches in Spanish and English helped show the palpable sense of pride and respect felt for everyone within the Hispanic community of West Orange. Traditional Argentinian dances were performed for the gathered crowd and Mexican singer Mariano Cersa gave a striking solo performance while engaging the audience.

History was made because only one flag was hoisted on the flagpole of the town hall. The deputy mayor of Orange West, Rodolfo Rodriguez, explained in Spanish that this honor would be returned to the Dominican Republic due to the presence of the three-time president of the island nation, Leonel Fernández. It was the first time in West Orange history that a foreign president hoisted a flag at West Orange Town Hall. President Fernández stood alongside the mayor of Orange West, Robert Parisi, at the flagpole just before the lift, thanking the mayor for the distinction of honor to Orange West. The country’s national anthem “Quisqueyanos Valientes” was sung during this historic event.

President Fernández slowly hoisted his country’s flag alongside the American flag in West Orange. Later speeches by President Fernández and Mayor Parisi further expressed the mutual admiration and respect between the two men. Mayor Parisi also expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the West Orange Hispanic Foundation for sponsoring the annual event.

President Fernández is expected to be re-elected during his fourth non-consecutive term as President of the Dominican Republic in 2022. Under Dominican law, presidents cannot serve consecutive terms and must be re-elected. President Fernández has met with two former US Presidents George W. Bush and Barrack Obama at the White House in the past.

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