La Parranda a slice of Latino culture

December 15, 2011

La Parranda moves through the HCC courtward. La Parranda stops in the lobby outside the HCC president's office.

In Latino culture, a parranda is a traveling party, a kind of caroling accompanied by instruments--drums, guitars, tamborines, maracas. 

"Traditionally, this is done in the middle of the night at houses of people not expecting it," said HCC senior academic advisor Jossie Valentin, who also advises the LISA Club (Latino International Student Association). "It's meant to wake them up and bring holiday cheer. Here at HCC, we do it to showcase a part of Latino culture."

Students, faculty and staff were treated to HCC's version, La Parranda, on Wednesday, Dec. 14, as a traveling band of musicians and singers, mostly members of the LISA Club and friends, made its way down the hallways and all around campus. "It's supposed to be as loud as possible, to wake people up," said Valentin.

The group, carrying drums, tamborines and maracas, started outside the office of Myriam Quinones, coordinator of Multicultural Academic Service and finished an hour later in the HCC cafeteria, with a small feast of traditional Latino food from Salsarengue, a Holyoke restaurant.

"This is one of my favorite HCC traditions," said Vivian Ostrowski, director of HCC's Gateway to College program, who joined up with the ever-growing group as it came through the Performing Arts building.

Indeed, what began as a band of about 10 musicians and singers swelled to about three times that many by the end.

"You always start with a couple of musicians and the crowd starts getting bigger and bigger," said Valentin. "Traditionally, you go from house to house and you gather all those people and take them with you."


Holyoke Community College
303 Homestead Ave. Holyoke, MA 01040