Friday, April 11, 2008

Happy Land Fire Victims Memorial Mass

Honduran Community Leaders meet to plan event

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 11, 2008

Contact: Ivine Galarza: (718) 579-6990
José Francisco Ávila (917) 783-5298

Bronx, New York - A group of Honduran community leaders, met on Friday, January 25th with Bronx Community Board 6 District Manager Ivine Galarza. The purpose of the meeting was to organize the Happy Land 87 Committee to plan the 18th Anniversary Mass in Memory of the 87 people who died in the fatal Happy Land Social Club fire on March 25, 1990.

The goal is to involve as many Honduran community organizations in the planning process of the memorial mass. Among the attendees were family members: Ms. Maria Gale, who lost a daughter and five other relatives in the fire, Francisco Ruiz and Marco Leopoldo Mena, as well as community leaders: Pablo Gomez, International Honduras Central American Parade, Inc.; Rosario Murrillo, Honduras Federation, Inc.; Aracely Nunez, Hondurans Against AIDS, Inc.; Marcos Rosales & Karla Milian, Partido Liberal; Jose Francisco Avila, the Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc.; Francisco Ruiz, Jamalali Uagucha, Inc and Rosemary Ordoñez-Jenkins, Phipps Community Development Corporation. Also in attendance were representatives from the New York City Police Department and the New York City Parks Department, which is responsible for the Memorial Monument in memory of the 87 victims, as well as Aurea Mangual, representing the Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr., Janet Sanchez from Councilman Joel Rivera’s office and a representative from Assemblyman Jose Rivera’s office.
It was unanimously agreed that Ms. Gale and the other victim’s family members will lead the committee and the community organizations will provide administrative, tactical and logistical support. It was also agreed that due to the fact that the anniversary date, March 25, falls during the Lent season, the memorial mass will be scheduled for Sunday, March 30th, 9:00 am at St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, 1900 Crotona Parkway , Bronx , NY 10460
The majority of the victims were members of the Honduran Garifuna Community, who this year commemorate the 213th anniversary of the death of the Paramount Garifuna Chief Joseph Chatoyer on March 14, 1795 and the 211th anniversary of the exile of the Garifuna people from St Vincent, on March 11, 1797, and their arrival to Central America on April 12th, 1797, along with the 18th anniversary of the fatal Happy Land Social Club fire.
The following activities are scheduled by the Happy Land 87 Committee:
  • March 25th at 8:00 pm - Garifuna Mass in memory of the 87 victims of the Happy Land Social Club Fire at St. Augustine Church , 1183 Franklin Ave , Bronx , NY 10456. Followed by a candle light Vigil in front of the 87 Monument on Southern Blvd. and East Tremont Avenue .
  • March 30th at 9:00 am - Happy Land Social Club Fire Memorial Mass, St Thomas of Aquinas Catholic Church, 1900 Crotona Parkway, Bronx, NY 10460
Hondurans have made many positive contributions to the social and economic fiber of New York City ; they have been migrating to New York City in search of a better life since the 1930s. An estimated 200,000 live in the South Bronx, Brownsville and East New York in Brooklyn, and on Manhattan 's Upper West Side . They represent the largest Central American group in New York City and were among the fastest-growing foreign-born populations in the city during the 90s. According to the New York City Department of Planning’s Demographic Profile, Central Americans represented 4.6% of New York City ’s Total Hispanic Population.
The Leaders at the meeting see the 18th Anniversary of the Happy Land Social Club Fire, as a turning point for the Honduran Immigrant Community in New York City– a time to pause and assess over 70 years of struggle and development in this great city, while looking forward to a future brimming with promise. They see the organization of the committee as the first step towards establishing an umbrella organization to find solutions to the problems faced by the Honduran Immigrant Community and to include it into the civic process of working to improve their neighborhoods and community.
The Happy Land 87 Committee would like to invite family members of the 87 victims, as well as friends of the Honduran Immigrant community to join us on Sunday, March 30th, 2008 at 9:00 AM at St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, 1900 Crotona Parkway , Bronx , NY 10460
The Committee does not request or accept monetary donations but appreciates in kind support such as refreshments and food, towards the events planned.

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