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  • Writer's pictureJames Conway

Miguel Tirado: from Puerto Rico to Lancaster, Preserving His Identity

Miguel Tirado sits on a sofa in front of a window. He is very funny and kind, and has a lot of pride in his country. In the interview, he said everything with a smile. Miguel Tirado was born in Puerto Rico and raised by his three older sisters when he was young. In 1966 and 1967, his sisters moved to Lancaster, and Miguel soon followed. About his immigration, Miguel reflected, "One thing that we have is that we always remember when we arrived here, because I arrived on July 28, 1969. At 16 years old." He finished his last two years of high school in Lancaster, and there were only five Latinos who graduated in the class of 1971. After high school, Miguel found himself working in the Latino community and has been a constant part of it ever since.

Miguel Tirado en el evento de Senorita Hispanidad 2021
Miguel Tirado at the Senorita Hispanidad event, 2021. Photo by Sollivan Photography

Before his time with the Latin American Alliance, Miguel participated in the Puerto Rican parade each year to celebrate his identity. In addition, he created a softball league for Latinos. In fact, Miguel became a part of the Latin American Alliance because of the parade. Miguel explained it a bit, “And this is where the Festival Committee comes from. Latin American Alliance evolved from the Puerto Rican parade in 2012 when it was very difficult to continue because it was very, very expensive, you know? So they said that by 2013 they were not going to be able to fundraise. Jaime Zabala spoke with us and that's where LAA started. The Latin American Festival started, that's why I'm here too."

Miguel at festival desfile de banderas.  Photo by Sollivan Photography
Miguel at the flag ceremony, 2021. Photo by Sollivan Photography

Miguel has been working with the Latin American Alliance organization for eight years. Now, Miguel is a member of the Executive Board as well as the festival committee. Every year Miguel volunteers his time to help with the festival. This year, Miguel spent the whole day working for the festival, from six in the morning until half-past seven at night. He had to set up 46 flags and then collect them. Miguel worked so hard that "when I got home my legs hurt so much that when I went to take a shower I couldn't get up."

In the future, Miguel and the Latin American Alliance want to continue with the activities they have always done, such as the festival, the poetry contest, and others. For Miguel, Latin American Alliance means sharing the Latin culture. The organization is a way in which the Hispanic American culture can be taught. At the festival, music from different Latin countries is performed. This year, there was an Ecuadorian dance group. Each Latino person who goes to the festival finds their own country represented. All Latino cultures are included, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Venezuelans, Colombians, etc. The organization introduces the people of Lancaster to the many Latin American cultures.

Miguel Tirado - Festival Latinamericano 2021
Miguel Tirado - Festival Latinamericano 2021. Photo by Sollivan Photography

Latin American Alliance allows Miguel to share his Puerto Rican culture and show his love for his homeland. There is a special place in his heart for Puerto Rico. He likes to talk about Puerto Rico. At the beginning of the interview, Miguel began, “One thing that distinguishes us as Puerto Ricans is that we say exactly what town we come from. The island has 78 municipalities. Seventy-eight municipalities and we are all proud of the town where we were born.” Miguel's pride in his country drives him to serve the Latino community. By working with the Latin American Alliance, Miguel can be more connected to Puerto Rican culture.

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