The near-100-degree temperatures only heated the flames of jubilation at last weekend's 10th Annual Hispanic-American Heritage Festival in Adams-Morgan. Celebrators packed the streets and parks, some sampling such delights as chorizo (a pork sausage), others flinging up arms and legs in impromptu dances.
Less-spontaneous but equally exuberant dances, concerts and singing wafted over the neighborhood from stages set up in Kalorama Park and at Columbia Road and Belmont Street. Dozens of food kiosks run by non-profit community groups and other vendors tried to keep pace with appetites and thirst that ran as high as the temperatures.
The festival focus shifted Saturday night to a gala ball at the Shoreham Hotel, where an energetic crowd danced until 2:30 a.m. to music by Tito Puente (known as "The King of Latin American Music") and his orchestra. For those who could have danced all night, there were wee-hour suppers to be had back in Adams-Morgan restaurants.
Sunday's parade, which attracted an estimated audience of 60,000, was led by festival president Jose Gutierrez and grand marshals Carlos Rosario, past director of the festival; festival director Pedro Lujan and Sister Mary Ann Justis.
The weekend bash climaxed more than a week of celebration sponsored by the Council of Hispanic Agencies, a coalition of 29 Hispanic organizations, and supported by federal and District government, community groups and businesses.
For starters, Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa was honored at a reception July 21 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library.
Women participated in a day of events that included a Hispanic-American roundtable discussion and a program at the Woodrow Wilson Center that focused on dance, literature, female identity, sexuality, upward mobility, poetry, theater and music.
Children were treated to a film festival, bicycle races, a fair, arts and crafts activities, a pinata party at Kalorama Park and programs at the Spanish Educational Development Center and the Woodrow Wilson Center.
For senior citizens offerings included a photography exhibit, bazaar, breakfasts, discount shopping expeditions, a mass at Sacred Heart Church and a reception at the Friends Meeting House.
For everyone, the festival offered a soccer match at Fort Reno Park, an ecumenical worship service and candlelight parade at 18th Street and Columbia Road and a humanities seminar to bring together Hispanic groups from 24 Latin American countries to discuss their similarities and differences.
The celebration will continue on Columbus Day, Oct. 12, which is Dia de la Raza (The Day of the Race), at the Shoreham Hotel during a banquet honoring the many who donated their money and time to make this year's Hispanic-American Heritage Festival the biggest and best -- and most sizzling -- yet.