INDIANAPOLIS — FIESTA Indianapolis, the city's very own celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, came to Lugar Plaza on Saturday. This is the festival's 41st year in the Circle City.
"I haven't missed a single one of these so-called Fiestas. Not a single one since they started," Gladys Dall said.
Dall moved to Indiana from her native Panama 38 years ago. According to U.S. Census data, Latinos ade up less than 1 percent of the state's population at the time.
"When I first came here, I drove all the way from my small town to St. Mary's in Indianapolis because I didn't speak English," she said.
Today, Dall is one of thousands celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at FIESTA.
"Then, after 15, 20 years in my small town, I met other people who looked like me, and they spoke Spanish, and here I am. It's amazing," she said.
FIESTA is run by La Plaza, a group that works to support Latino families in Central Indiana. President and CEO Miriam Acevedo Davis also came to Indiana in the 80's.
"When I first came here, if I wanted food from my country, I would have to go to one store at 34th and Shadeland and they would have food there every Thursday. Now I can walk into any Kroger, Meijer, you name it, and they have a whole aisle dedicated to Latino food," she said.
The 2020 Census showed that Latinos now make up about 13% of the city's population. It's the fastest growing ethnic group in the city.
"Certainly we've seen the growth and it's reflected in the population, the foods, the restaurants, the growth in the school population," Acevedo Davis said.
Latinos make up an even bigger share of the youth population. More than 30% of IPS students are Hispanic.
On a day celebrating our differences, Dall is reminded of all the ways we are the same.
"We always have something in common," she said. "I've very proud of my heritage, and I'm so proud of the people who are here celebrating, who wanted to share this special day with us here in Indianapolis."
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