Mayor Sayegh posthumously honored Peruvian leader Nelly Celi for her 30+ years of dedication to the City of Paterson community.
By Gabriella Dragone
PATERSON, NJ – On Thursday, Mayor Andre Sayegh, the Peruvian Parade, Inc. and the Paterson City Council raised the Peruvian flag outside Paterson City Hall to celebrate the nation’s independence from Spain. The celebration included music and performances highlighting Peru’s rich culture.
Sayegh also posthumously honored Peruvian community leader Nelly Celi for her many contributions to the City of Paterson and the State of New Jersey. Celi served as a Board Chair of the New Jersey Equal Opportunity Fund (EOF) State Board of Directors, President of the Board of Trustees for the Paterson Library and Museum, and a Board Member for the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey. Additionally, Celi was a founding Board Member of the Paterson Performing Arts Development Council (PPADC), a former board member of the Paterson Habitat for Humanity, and a former Commissioner of the Paterson Planning Board. She was instrumental in establishing Paterson’s Peru Square, a neighborhood boasting Peruvian restaurants and bakeries. Celi also led the Girl Scouts Sports program, where she provided hundreds of young girls in Paterson, Prospect Park and Passaic the opportunity to learn and play soccer, basketball, tennis and volleyball.
“I am looking forward to Sunday when we are going to march in honor of the 201st anniversary of Peruvian independence,” Sayegh said. “We can celebrate here in the City of Paterson, which boasts one of the largest and most vibrant Peruvian populations in the United States of America.”
“Today we celebrate 201 years of our country being free,” Guillermo Garcia, President of Peruvian Parade, Inc said. “Today we celebrate joy, there are so many moments to celebrate, Peru will always be in our hearts.”
July 28 commemorates the liberation of Peru from Spain by Jose de San Martín, the most famous liberator of Latin America aside from the Liberator himself, Simon Bolivar. The following day, July 29, celebrates establishment of the Republic of Peru. Together, these two days are called Las Fiestas Patrias and are by far the most important national holidays in Peru.
“I am proud to celebrate 201 years of independence,” Patricia Ráez Portocarrero, of the General Embassy of Peru said. “Since July 28, 1821, General Jose de San Martín declared Independence of Peru in the Plaza de Armas of Lima. In 1824, the Independence of Peru was finally sealed. All of you are forging a future or have already been given a future in this country. This July 28 is a day of celebration.”
“I want to thank God for allowing us to wake up on this beautiful day to celebrate 201 years of independence,” Councilwoman-at-Large Maritza Davila said. “My message today is about unity. See what happens when we all come together? I thank God for a community that is so vibrant, passionate, humble and full of love. I am so thankful to God and to the Peruvians who call Paterson their home.”
“The raising of the Peruvian flag in the City of Paterson not only commemorates the 201st anniversary of independence, but also the great history of Peruvian Americans,” Congressman Bill Pascrell said in a statement. “I know firsthand that the Peruvian culture is rich with tradition and customs that have played an integral role in shaping the lives of all those within our community. As a representative of one of the most diverse districts in the country, I am proud to fight for the rights of Peruvian Americans in Washington. This event today, highlights the diversity and our greatest strength as a nation.”