Two first-ever celebrations of Haitian Flag Day are scheduled for Thursday, May 18, in Springfield, which has experienced a large influx of Haitian immigrants in recent years.
The first event, beginning at 7:45 a.m., is a city of Springfield observance open to the public.
“We want to honor the contributions of the Haitian people in our community on a day that is key in their national pride,” said Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck in a release. “One of the things that makes our community strong and prosperous is the diversity of the people who choose Springfield as their home, place of business or destination to visit. That’s something we always want to celebrate.”
The city event — near the flagpole on the City Hall Plaza — will begin with the raising of the Haitian flag and singing of the Haitian national anthem. A city proclamation and remarks will follow that.
The larger event is called the Haitian Flag Day Fair and Festival, planned from 1 to 9 p.m. at the Veterans Park Amphitheater at 250 Cliff Park Road. Entry is free.
“This annual event aims to promote diversity and unity within our community,” organizers wrote in promotional materials. “The festival brings together people of all backgrounds to honor and celebrate the rich culture and history of Haiti,” noting it also would highlight the impact of Haitian culture on the Springfield community.”
That event will feature Haitian food vendors, art, dance, music, a panel discussion and remarks, plus live performances. Headliners include Toto Necessite, Delly Francois, J-Flash and Harriett J.
“The festival provides an opportunity for people to come together, learn from one another and embrace diversity in all its forms,” the promotional material said.
Credit: Creative Commons
Credit: Creative Commons
Organizers explained the significance of Haitian Flag Day, which commemorates the creation of the country’s flag on May 18, 1803.
“The Haitian Revolution was a pivotal moment in the fight against slavery, as Haiti became the first country in the world to achieve independence through a successful slave rebellion,” the promotional material said. “The creation of the Haitian flag was a symbol of the nation’s struggle for freedom and has since become an emblem of Haitian identity and pride.”
The revolution helped Haitians achieve independence from France.
How many Haitian immigrants have come to Springfield is unknown, but groups working with the population have estimated that 4,000 to 7,000 Haitian people have found their way to the city in roughly the last five years.
The Springfield News-Sun looks at the number of Haitian patients visiting the Rocking Horse Community Health Center and the changes caregivers have made to help.