In a borough where 47 percent of the population is foreign-born, according to U.S. Census data, and a Colombian pandebono is as easy to find as a McMuffin, diversity is definitely part of the DNA in Queens. For the past 15 years, the Queens Theater in the Park has organized its Chase Latino Cultural Festival (so-called for its leading sponsor), which kicks off on Wednesday, with music, theater, dance and other events geared towards putting the borough's diversity onstage.
"The Latin-American and Latino cultures are so diverse that we needed to use the festival as a window to the community," said the festival's director, Claudia Norman. "By bringing the African influence, the European influences and also the urban and contemporary sounds and movement, we tried to do a multi-disciplinary festival where we can showcase dance, music, film and theater through a cultural manifestation."
In addition to having a diverse Latino population, immigrants from Asia have been building vibrant communities in Queens for decades.
"New York has always been a place where different ethnic groups have always come together and interacted and created a new kind of culture," said Ed Morales, the author of "Living in Spanglish: The Search for Latino Identity in America."
Morales said the significance of cultural events like the Chase Latino Cultural festival is that it can unite generations and nationalities.
"It's a very New York Latino experience and it's a very New York experience in general," he said. "It's something that may bring distinct communities together who are trying to understand what kind of cultural life they do have in New York or in the United States."
The festival will be held at the Claire Shulman Playhouse in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park from Wednesday through Sunday. Here are some of the highlights: