Osceola County celebrates Caribbean influence during Hispanic Heritage Month

To kick off its annual celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Osceola County is focusing on the culture of the Caribbean, specifically Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

The Sept. 20 Celebration at Osceola Heritage Park will emphasize the music and dances of those Caribbean cultures. There will be live music from 1+Q’Otro and Plena Mar Latino. The event is free and begins at 5:30 p.m.

The recognition of Puerto Rican classical pianist, director, musical producer and philanthropist, Adlan Cruz, will be the highlight.

Cruz’s career spans three decades, more than 30 musical productions, concerts in more than 60 countries, and more than 15 years teaching and making dreams come true through a foundation that bears his name.

“Adlan is one of the most successful representatives of music and social commitment from the island of Puerto Rico,” said Commissioner Viviana Janer. “It’s an honor that he calls Central Florida home. It is very special to have him present for our Celebration this year and to acknowledge his contributions to our culture. Hispanic Heritage Month is a wonderful way to highlight our ethnic heritage and share a multi-faceted cultural legacy.”

A native of Bayamón, Cruz received a small red piano as a Christmas present when he was 3. From that moment on, the instrument became his loyal companion on a path to unparalleled achievement. By the age of 12, he was considered a prodigy – and the rest is music history, according to a county press release.

He has created more than 30 original musical productions, worked with renowned artists and celebrities and is known for a unique sound, marked by a fusion of the classical with popular rhythms, ethnic instruments from various cultures, and a Caribbean touch. The Adlan Cruz Foundation in Brazil provides fellowships for low-income students to study in that country’s Escuela Internacional Preparando Generaciones.

Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson, and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on Sept. 15 and ending on Oct. 15. The day of Sept. 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.

Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is Oct. 12, falls within this 30-day period.