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Hispanic Heritage Month celebrated with fiestas and piñatas at Tinker

An image from Hispanic American Heritage Month fiesta.

A Fiesta was held in the Fellowship Hall of the Tinker Chapel Sept. 23 as a kickoff event for Hispanic American Heritage Month, which is observed Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Attendees were encouraged to dress in traditional attire from their countries for a costume contest. Several Hispanic countries were represented, including Mexico, Venezuela, Columbia, Peru and Panama with representatives offering traditional sweet and savory dishes as well as their crafts and handiwork. A dance instructor was also available for teaching traditional dances such as the merengue, the national dance of the Dominican Republic. The next event will be the Tarahumara Run on Oct. 15 at 3 p.m. at the Tinker Track. (U.S. Air Force photo/Kelly White)


Tinker Air Force Base’s Hispanic Heritage Special Observance Committee kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month with two major events showcasing the diversity of Hispanic heritage and the support of the Hispanic community within the Air Force.

Tinkerites got a taste of Latin-American culture at the Fiesta held Sept. 23 and a Children’s Piñata Festival held on Sept. 25. With the month’s slate of activities focused on celebrating diversity brought to the Air Force by its Hispanic Airmen, Col. Paul Filcek, 72nd Airbase Wing commander, said activities such as these are important as any other human interest endeavors Tinker pursues.

“Recognizing any and all diversity remains a priority at Team Tinker,” Filcek said. “As the founders of our country discovered, the strength of diversity is the only way to ultimately defeat our adversaries.”

The Fiesta, the committee’s alternative to a luncheon, was hosted later in the day to allow more Airmen and their families the opportunity to take part in the activities. It featured food from a variety of different Latin-American countries including Panama, Venezuela, Mexico and more.

“Honestly there is a huge Hispanic population from around Latin America and there are many amazing Hispanics who have joined the ranks and have helped make the Air Force what it is now,“ said Staff Sgt. Jose Moyes, who was the committee lead on the Fiesta.

For Airmen who wanted a more hands-on cultural experience, the Fiesta also offered an opportunity for dance lessons and a costume contest. Moyes said the event was designed to provide a fun time while respectfully paying homage to Latin American culture.

The Children’s Piñata Festival also provided a more immersive cultural experience, with food, piñatas and other activities for Airmen and their families to participate.

A new addition to this year’s lineup of events is the upcoming Run Like the Tarahumara event hosted at 3 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Tinker Football Field. Honoring the indigenous Tarahumara people of Mexico, the event encourages the minimal use of footwear and offers a prize to the runner who lasts the longest.

The event was inspired by the Tarahumara, an indigenous group that live in the northern portion of the Mexican Sierra Madres, who are known for their ability to run long distances for extended periods of time while either barefoot or with very minimal footwear.

Moyes said the overall goal of the month is to honor the Air Force’s Hispanic Airmen, recognize the support made by the Latin American community to Tinker and to acknowledge the large Hispanic population within Oklahoma and the contributions they have made to the Air Force.