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Latino-flavored holiday event brings laughter, dancers and acrobats to Humboldt Park

The free event — Destinos al Aire, A Holiday Extravaganza! — was put on by the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance as part of the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Park series.

Johana Vargas (left), Jean Claudio (center) and Xavier Claudio, circus performers with La Vuelta, dance during Destinos al Aire, A Holiday Extravaganza. The Latino-centered event, inspired by Christkindlmarket, was at Humboldt Park’s Boathouse on Friday.
Johana Vargas (left), Jean Claudio (center) and Xavier Claudio, circus performers with La Vuelta, dance during Destinos al Aire, A Holiday Extravaganza. The Latino-centered event, inspired by Christkindlmarket, was at Humboldt Park’s Boathouse on Friday.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

The Humboldt Park boathouse welcomed dozens of people Friday to enjoy a free night of holiday festivities that included a circus act, a comedy show, live music and shopping from local vendors.

Think Christkindlmarket with a Latino twist.

Memo Martinez watched his 3-year-old grandson run from vendor to vendor, jumping with excitement during the performances. It was a joy, he said, to see so many people having a good time.

“Events like this help us stake our claim and proudly show us Latinos are part of our community,” said Mata, who lives in nearby Avondale. “We have local artists here that really don’t get support anywhere and they can help make money here. We have to support them.”

The free event — Destinos al Aire, A Holiday Extravaganza! — was put on by the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance as part of the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Park series. This was the second of three events leading up to Christmas.

Melissa Correa with La Humita on Wheels serves the Mata family hot chocolate, during Destinos al Aire, A Holiday Extravaganza at the Humbolt Park boathouse.
Melissa Correa with La Humita on Wheels serves the Mata family hot chocolate, during Destinos al Aire, A Holiday Extravaganza at the Humbolt Park boathouse.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Sara Carranza, media and digital director for the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance, said Latino-centric events are vital.

“So one of the things that is very prominent within the arts in general is that it happens in a centralized location — usually downtown,” Carranza said. “To have our own culture come to our own neighborhoods is something that makes us feel more a part of the city. It shows our voices matter, we are seen and we can just be ourselves.”

Laura Rodriguez-Romani, owner of Los Amigos Books, was among the vendors Friday night, Dec. 3, 2021 at Destinos al Aire at the Humboldt Park boathouse.
Laura Rodriguez-Romani, owner of Los Amigos Books, was among the vendors Friday night at Destinos al Aire at the Humboldt Park boathouse.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Vendors sold customized tumblers, clothing, candles, Christmas tree ornaments, jewelry, essential oils and hand-made soap. None were charged a vendor’s fee to the benefit of many of these entrepreneurs.

Performers included stand-up comedian Gwen La Roka, the all-woman group Las BomPleneras, circus act La Vuelta and local band Cepillao.

The next Destinos al Aire, A Holiday Extravaganza! will be at Harrison Park on Dec. 10.

Circus performer Johana Vargas performs rope dances for the crowd at the Humboldt Park boathouse Friday night, Dec. 3, 2021.
Circus performer Johana Vargas performs rope dances for the crowd at the Humboldt Park boathouse Friday night.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
Xavier Claudio, a circus performer with La Vuelta juggles with a Diabolo on Friday at the Humboldt Park boathouse.
Xavier Claudio, a circus performer with La Vuelta juggles with a Diabolo on Friday at the Humboldt Park boathouse.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Tyni Simpson (center) and Sahat Votan (left), owners of Divine Blissings, discuss incense with a customer on Friday night at the Humboldt Park boathouse. Their business was among the vendors at a Latino centered Christkindlmarket-type event.
Tyni Simpson (center) and Sahat Votan (left), owners of Divine Blissings, discuss incense with a customer on Friday night at the Humboldt Park boathouse. Their business was among the vendors at a Latino centered Christkindlmarket-type event.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
Las BomPleneras performs Friday night at the  Humboldt Park boathouse.
Las BomPleneras performs Friday night at the Humboldt Park boathouse.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
Las BomPleneras performs Friday night at the  Humboldt Park boathouse.
Las BomPleneras performs Friday night at the Humboldt Park boathouse.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
Jean Claudio (from left), Johana Vargas and Xavier Claudio, circus performers with La Vuelta, dance during Destinos al Aire, A Holiday Extravaganza, at the Humboldt Park Boathouse on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021.
Jean Claudio (from left), Johana Vargas and Xavier Claudio, circus performers with La Vuelta, dance during Destinos al Aire, A Holiday Extravaganza, at the Humboldt Park Boathouse on Friday.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times