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Mayor, IBA light up Plaza Betances

Karen Morales
Mayor, IBA light up Plaza Betances
Members of Jibaro Soy play traditional Puerto Rican holiday music at Plaza Betances in the South End. photo: Karen Morales

The Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción community development corporation hosted its annual tree lighting ceremony with Mayor Martin Walsh in Villa Victoria last Wednesday. City Councilors Ed Flynn and Annissa Essaibi-George were also in attendance.

Despite the bitter cold of the evening, residents of the Villa Victoria affordable housing community in Boston’s South End neighborhood came together on Plaza Betances in an intimate gathering.

The musical group Jibaro Soy, led by band director Aida Silva, graced the neighborhood with parrandas, or Puerto Rican Christmas caroling, and continued the music out on the plaza where people danced as they waited for the ceremony to start.

“Even though it’s not as warm as it is in Puerto Rico right now,” said Vanessa Calderon-Rosado, CEO of IBA, “the people, the music and the dancing warms us all up.”

As 2018 draws to a close, Calderon-Rosado reflected on her organization’s 50 years of community building. “It was in 1968 when a group of Puerto Rican activists organized like we are tonight, to develop affordable housing and programs,” she said.

“Thanks to those efforts, we are making great contributions to our beloved city,” said Calderon.

Walsh, who is assisting with the lighting of more than 30 Christmas trees across the city this holiday season, offered up remarks before the lighting countdown.

“I want to congratulate IBA on 50 years of advocacy, of pushing and fighting for housing, better education and better opportunities for our young people,” he said.

He continued, “In the last couple of years we’ve gone through some ups and downs with our federal government, but it’s organizations like this and leaders like Vanessa who have gotten us through difficult times — and we have good times coming.”

At the ceremony, cookies and hot cocoa were handed out and the Trustees Mobile Farmers Market held a pop-up shop by the plaza.

The Trustees Mobile Farmers Market regularly sets up shop at community locations in Dorchester, the South End, Jamaica Plain, Roslindale and Roxbury. The mobile market provides affordable and farm-sourced food and accepts SNAP/EBT, WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program coupons.

The culmination of IBA’s 50th anniversary celebrations will be an event on Dec. 20 called “50 Portraits of Villa Victoria.” The event, at IBA’s La Galeria, 85 W. Newton St., will feature a collection of photographs, vignettes, poems, paintings and other works of art created by IBA’s youth program participants. The gallery opening will also feature music created by artist-in-residence Devin Ferreira and will be free and open to the public.

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