OPA-LOCKA – “Today I am Dominican,” proclaimed Mayor Myra L. Taylor as she welcomed Amaury Rios, consulate general of the Dominican Republic, along with other dignitaries, and representatives of the city of Opa-locka’s 1,200 Dominican residents, to a ceremony in honor of the 169th anniversary of Dominican Republic Independence Day.
The Feb. 27 event at the historic City Hall, 777 Sharazad Blvd., recognized the day that Dominicans celebrate their independence from Haiti.
In the 1830s, Juan Pablo Duarte (1813-1876), known as “the father of Dominican independence,” organized a secret society, called La Trinitaria, to lead the fight to gain the country’s independence, which after a long struggle was finally declared on Feb. 27, 1844.
In commemoration of the rich history, culture, and accomplishments of the Dominican people, Commissioner Santiago and the City of Opa-locka held a Flag Presentation Ceremony, which was also attended by Amada Vargas, executive director of Latinos United, who served as a translator for Rios and other non-English speaking guests.
“Thanks for choosing the first Dominican commissioner in Florida,” Vargas said in extending gratitude in behalf of Rios. "We are motivated to continue making the citizens of Opa-locka proud,” she interpreted, while also using the opportunity to recognize Women’s History Month. “We are looking forward to achieving great things together.”
Former Opa-locka Vice Mayor Terence Pinder served as master of ceremonies. Commissioner Luis B. Santiago acknowledged Vice Mayor Joseph Kelley and fellow commissioners Timothy Holmes and Dorothy Johnson on their “good ideas for the progress of the city, so it will again be ‘The Great’ City of Opa-locka.”
Vice Mayor Kelley stated, “We are a community of brotherhood and sisterhood,” while commissioner Holmes commented on the orderly conditions he witnessed on his two visits to Santo Domingo, saying, “We can learn a couple things from the laws in your country.”
Taylor and Rios later presented the American and Dominican flags to one another, before both flags were raised atop the flagpole in front of City Hall.
Following the short program, lunch was provided at the Don Domingo Restaurant nearby at 530 Sharazad Blvd.
*Pictured above is Mayor Myra Taylor.