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How Tampa is celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

The period of recognition runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
Credit: Simone - stock.adobe.com

National Hispanic Heritage month kicks off Wednesday, Sept. 15, and the Tampa Bay area is hosting many events to recognize the contributions and influence Hispanic Americans have made in the United States.

The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on Sept. 15 and ending on Oct. 15. 

The month-long celebration honors the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. 

Around the Tampa Bay area, there are many events and contests taking place to observe National Hispanic Heritage Month.

National Hispanic Heritage Month at the library - Sept. 24
The Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library is celebrating with special events, curated book lists and the annual youth art contest all month long.

One Book One Night: "The Soul of a Woman" by author Isabel Allende will take place at 6:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 24. More events and details on the contest can be found on the library's website.

Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration in St. Pete - Sept. 25
The St. Pete event celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month will be a huge event with live music by Sonido Latino, a DJ, inflatables, games and vendors. Starting at 11 a.m., there will be free food for the first 500 people in attendance.

Viva Tampa Bay - Oct. 15
An event filled with music, performances, concerts and more. Viva Tampa Bay celebrates Tampa Bay Hispanic Heritage Month by honoring generations of Hispanic Americans. 

Lakeland Hispanic Festival - Oct. 23
The 23rd annual Lakeland Hispanic Festival will celebrate the month with a cultural event to highlight the hispanic culture. There will be live music from talented artists around the Tampa Bay area, authentic Latin cuisine and children's activities. There is a $5 entry fee.

Florida's first lady, Casey DeSantis announced that the theme for Hispanic Heritage Month is "Celebrating Hispanic-American Community Leaders and Champions."

DeSantis has invited students to participate in academic and creative contests based on this year's theme. 

Art contest

The Hispanic Heritage Month art contest is open to students in Kindergarten to third grade in Florida. Students can submit original, two-dimensional artwork based on this year’s theme. Two winners will be selected.

Student essay

The essay contest is open to all Florida students in fourth to twelfth grade. Students will submit one essay no longer than 500 words based on the theme, "Celebrating Hispanic-American Community Leaders and Champions." Three winners will be selected: one elementary school student (grades 4-5), one middle school student (grades 6-8) and one high school student (grades 9-12).  Each winner will receive a four-year Florida College Plan scholarship provided by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation. 

Excellence in Education award

This contest is open to full-time educators in an elementary, middle or high school in Florida. Three winners will be selected, one from each division. Nominations must be submitted by a principal, teacher, parent, guardian or student. 

How do I enter the contest?
Student contest forms and educator nomination forms can be mailed to Volunteer Florida. The label should read: 

Volunteer Florida
Hispanic Heritage Month Committee
1545 Raymond Diehl Road, Suite 250
Tallahassee, Florida 32308 

Entries can also be submitted online by clicking here.

All entries must be received by 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 11, 2021.