Mercado Esperanza Returns

This past Sunday marked the return of the Mercado Esperanza for the first time since 2019.

The Mercado Esperanza was founded by NBT along with coLAB Arts and Elijah’s Promise to create a place for the community to celebrate the food, arts, and culture of New Brunswick and its diverse community. And, what a celebration we had! After nearly two years of not having in-person events, the community flocked to War Memorial Park on French Street to enjoy the delicious food of our local vendors, dance along with the live performers, and connect with one another again.

The highlight of the event was the cultural unity performance and the dedication of the new mural adjacent to War Memorial Park. The multicultural performance was curated by frequent artistic collaborator Tanaquil Márquez, on behalf of NBT and coLAB Arts, to celebrate the rich history of New Brunswick’s diverse communities.

It began with a traditional dance blessing by Danza Azteca Group to honor the pre-Hispanic roots of Aztec culture and recognize the Lenape as the original inhabitants of New Jersey.This was followed by traditional folk dances by the Hungarian American Athletic Club and Lebanese youth dance groups, and a dance from the multigenerational Teatro Esperanza troupe accompanied by an original song from Latina artist Marilyn Castillo. The performances were also punctuated with audio excerpts from oral histories of our community members and culminating to an original song, performed by Dr. S. Todd and Ms. Màrquez, about all the cultures and histories involved in this project, celebrating the city of New Brunswick.

The Mercado also celebrated the formal dedication of “A Journey Forward… A COVID Remembrance,” the new asphalt mural completed this August by artist Leon Rainbow. The special presentation ended with a moving blessing of the mural from Ruben Chico and Ramiro Cantero Galicia of Danza Azteca.

Throughout the event, attendees enjoyed live music and dance performances from Puerto Rican bomba ensemble Cimarrones and local youth performers. Zimmerli Art Museum also hosted a spooky-themed Art Workshop for everyone to get in the spirit of our upcoming Halloween/Day of the Dead Mercado Esperanza.

We were overjoyed to see the return of this beautiful display of arts, culture, and local cuisine of New Brunswick; especially the response from the community. The Mercado Esperanza will continue to bring hope and happiness to New Brunswick residents next weekend, Sunday, October 31st for our Halloween and Day of the Dead celebrations at War Memorial Park from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.

October 29, 2021

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