Multicultural Family Fiesta was a passport to fun and learning at the library

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The Multicultural Family Fiesta at the El Cajon Library has been the signature event for the library in the last several years. This year was no different. As the very mission of the library, the event informed, educate, inspired and entertained. 

There were dancers, a K-9 demonstration, and fire engine tours along with snacks for everyone, and crafts and story-time for the children in the library.

The Multicultural Family Fiesta at the El Cajon Library has been the signature event for the library in the last several years. This year was no different. As the very mission of the library, the event informed, educate, inspired and entertained. 

There were dancers, a K-9 demonstration, and fire engine tours along with snacks for everyone, and crafts and story-time for the children in the library.

A big attraction for the children and their parents was the book give-away in the children’s section of the library. The library “passport” that the children had stamped as they visited various areas of the library helped educate them about what the library has to offer.

Branch Manager Hildie Kraus said that the Multicultural Family Fiesta always celebrates reading in a big way.

“It also helps educate children by exposing them to different cultures from their own – we want the message to be that diversity and unity can go together,” she said. “There all kinds of people in our city, and they can get along.”

The event served as the kick-off for the Dia de los Niños/Dia de los Libros (Day of the Children/Day of the Books), which celebrates children and reading. The program is nation-wide, with most libraries observing it.

Youth Services Librarian Kristin Ward said she was proud that the El Cajon Library has the opportunity to host the countywide kick-off for Dia de Los Libros.

“This is a great opportunity for us to reach out to the kids in our community and get books in their hands. There is something so exciting about getting to take home a brand new book and keep it forever,” Ward said.

Hypatia Gutierrez just happened to drop by the library with her son Christian, 5, as they normally do and was happy to discover the Fiesta taking place. Her son colored a snake mobile, got a free “Animal Planet” book and sat in on the story-time.

“Christian really likes the library,” said Gutierrez about her son. “We come to the library twice a week.

Christian hugged his new book to himself and picked up the snake mobile.

“Making the snake was what I liked best,” he said, propelling it up and down. 

Performances by La Fiesta del Pueblo Ballet Folklorico from the Cajon Valley Middle School and the Arabina Middle Eastern Dancers filled the outdoors with color, dance and music. 

Kraus credits Nancy St. John, the previous branch manager for coming up with the festival  as a replacement for the Friendship Festival that the City of El Cajon offered in the past. The event celebrates the rich diversity of El Cajon, showcase the library as a community center and feature local performers and community organizations as well as restaurants and markets.

The community response to the Family Fiesta has always been very positive, Kraus said. 

“We get incredibly generous support from local businesses. They donate money, and also many of the refreshments. The community really comes out for the Fiesta, and they seem to enjoy themselves enormously,” she said.

According to Kraus, it wouldn’t have all come together without Friends of the El Cajon Library group. The FOL run the bookstore, support much of the library’s programming, and sponsor all kinds of fabulous events at the library.  

They are truly community-mind and civic-spirited,” Kraus said.

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