On February 22nd, the Fundacion Lucero De America (Lucero Foundation of America) held its annual “Long Island Gran Baile De Carnaval” celebration. The event is both a recognition and celebration of the Ecuadorian community on Long Island. The main attraction of the event is a beauty pageant competition, in which four young women compete for the title of “Reina De Carnaval 2014.”
The Lucero Foundation of America promotes unity among the Ecuadorian community on Long Island through cultural and social programs. Their mission is to increase civic engagement and participation by the immigrant community to foster an environment where the immigrant population can integrate into their adopted communities
Members of the Lucero Foundation of America created the “Carnaval” celebration as a way to both engage all members of the Ecuadorian community on Long Island and a way to provide opportunities for young women of the community to partake in a cultural tradition that is nationally honored in provinces and towns of Ecuador.
Beauty pageant competitions are a highly regarded tradition in Ecuador and throughout Latin America. The winner is considered to bring great honor to their community as a representative of the community. The winner of the “Reina De Carnaval” pageant is expected to assist the Lucero Foundation of America in community work and cultural events throughout her tenure. I was asked to participate in this tradition as a beauty pageant judge, which I consider to be an amazing opportunity, since I have always admired this tradition from my mother’s home country of Ecuador. Along with me on the panel of judges, were two influential community members: Ana Leal of Patchogue-Medford High School, and Thomas Keegan, Chairperson of the Greater Patchogue Foundation Cultural Heritage committee.
The young women were graded on criteria that evaluated their choice of formal wear, poise, command of the stage and prepared questions. Each contestant also spoke about her personal interest in being a community representative for the Lucero Foundation of America.
It was very touching and inspiring to see all the hard work each contestant put into her presentation. Rightfully each contestant had her own adoring crowd of proud family members and friends voicing their support.
Long Island Wins and Welcoming Long Island would like to congratulate Maryann Rodas, the 2014 Reina De Carnaval! We would also like to thank the Lucero Foundation of America for all their hard work and commitment to creating a more welcoming community for all Long Islanders.