Garifuna American ERIN ARZU Is Crowned 2014 Miss Garifuna USA in Harlem

Miss Dangriga Belize, Erin Arzu during her introductory speech at The 2014 Miss Garifuna USA Cultural Pageant.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Miss Dangriga Belize, Erin Arzu during her introductory speech at The 2014 Miss Garifuna USA Cultural Pageant. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2014 by Teofilo Colon Jr.  (a.k.a. “Tio Teo” or “Teofilo Campeon”) All Rights Reserved.  Telephone: (646) 961-3674.

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Harlem, New York — Miss Erin Arzu, proudly representing the Garifuna town of Dangriga, Belize; was crowned 2014 Miss Garifuna USA in an evening marked by various factions of the Garifuna Diaspora coming together to witness passionate displays of Garifuna culture.  The 2014 Miss Garifuna USA Cultural Pageant took place on SUNDAY, April 27th 2014 at Riverside State Park in Harlem.

Garifuna American ERIN ARZU during the Question and Answer segment of The 2014 Miss Garifuna USA Cultural Pageant.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Garifuna American ERIN ARZU during the Question and Answer segment of The 2014 Miss Garifuna USA Cultural Pageant. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

While it was VERY hard for me to take notes of this year’s Annual Pageant due to me being drained of energy from fighting a cold, a fever and coughing.  I will try my best to relay what took place during this four hour pageant.

Hosted by Luz Soliz and Catherine Ochun Soliz-Rey, Garifuna businesswomen who are also from the Hamalali Wayunagu Garifuna Folkloric and Modern Dance Company.

Cultural Presentations were made by the three main Garifuna Dance companies in New York City.

Budari Dance Company

Hamalali Wayunagu Garifuna Folkloric and Modern Dance Company

Chief Joseph Chatoyer Garifuna Folkloric Ballet of New York

NOTE: There was also a Garifuna Dance Presentation by the Youth Division of Casa Yurumein

The evening also included a performance by Garifuna Singer Paula Castillo.

Garifuna American ERIN ARZU during the Talent segment of The 2014 Miss Garifuna USA Cultural Pageant.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Garifuna American ERIN ARZU during the Talent segment of The 2014 Miss Garifuna USA Cultural Pageant. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

For the contestants, this cultural pageant consisted of three parts.

a) Introductory Speech

b) Question and Answer Session (answer 2 questions)

c) Talent

NOTE: in a special ceremony which took place during The 2014 Miss Garifuna Cultural Pageant, each contestant was given a Certificate of Achievement by the Presidents of the respective home-town associations that these contestants represented.

Garifuna American ERIN ARZU with her Certificate of Achievement presented to her and each contestant at The 2014 Miss Garifuna USA Cultural Pageant.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Garifuna American ERIN ARZU with her Certificate of Achievement presented to her and each contestant at The 2014 Miss Garifuna USA Cultural Pageant. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

During the Talent segment, Miss Erin Arzu sang an approximate ten-minute medley of Garifuna songs.  I was too sick to take notes, and don’t remember the names of the songs performed.  Spirited, lively and full of feeling; Miss Erin Arzu’s medley was amongst of number of expressive performances by the contestants.

EDITOR UPDATE:

What also makes Miss Erin Arzu’s participation in the 2014 Miss Garifuna USA Cultural Pageant noteworthy is I believe that Miss Erin Arzu is the first young Garifuna lady of Belizean descent to take part in the Casa Yurumein Miss Garifuna USA Cultural Pageant in it’s eight year existence.  I haven’t confirmed this, but I think this is the case.  I am told that prior to Casa Yurumein reviving the Miss Garifuna USA Cultural Pageant in 2007, Belizean Garifuna organized and ran Miss Garifuna USA Cultural Pageants in New York City.

As a casual observation, the general lack of participation by young Belizean Garifuna women in the Miss Garifuna USA Cultural Pageants HAS been a concern over the years in the Garifuna community.  I suspect that Miss Erin Arzu’s participation in this year’s Cultural Pageant was welcomed with open, embracing arms.

The Third Place Winner was Miss Kendra Avila, who represented Punta Piedra, Honduras.

Third Place Winner of The 2014 Miss Garifuna Cultural Pageant, Miss Kendra Avila, representing Punta Piedra, Honduras.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

Third Place Winner of The 2014 Miss Garifuna USA Cultural Pageant, Miss Kendra Avila, representing Punta Piedra, Honduras. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

The Second Place Winner was Miss Kathy Nunez, who represented San Juan, Honduras.

Second Place Winner, Miss Kathy Nunez, representing San Juan, Honduras at The 2014 Miss Garifuna Cultural Pageant.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Second Place Winner, Miss Kathy Nunez, representing San Juan, Honduras at The 2014 Miss Garifuna USA Cultural Pageant. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

Each contestant had a section of the audience rooting for them and to a degree, I don’t think there will ever be a winner that everyone will be satisfied with and whose beauty, charm, wit, and overall performance transcends national or tribal/village/town boundaries or loyalties.

SOME of the Audience of The 2014 Miss Garifuna Cultural Pageant.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

SOME of the Audience of The 2014 Miss Garifuna USA Cultural Pageant. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

So, yes, they were some who were disappointed in the results, but I must say controversy over the winner erupts every year, at least ever since I’ve been attending since 2010.  In my short time with these young ladies, they seemed to really like each other as Garifuna youths and appeared to cheer each other on.  In a Facebook post, Miss Erin Arzu gracefully congratulated the Second and Third Place winners as well as the other contestants for having the courage to take part in this unique pageant.

Status Update by The 2014 Miss Garifuna USA, Miss Erin Arzu after her victory.  Screen Grab from Facebook.

Status Update by The 2014 Miss Garifuna USA, Miss Erin Arzu after her victory. Screen Grab from Facebook.

 

As Miss Garifuna, Miss Erin Arzu will be the recipient of $1,000.  The Second Place Winner, Miss Kathy Nunez will receive $500.  The Third Place Winner will receive $250.  These prize monies were provided by sponsor Injury Attorney, Mr. Martin Munitz, who has been a sponsor for the Miss Garifuna Cultural USA Cultural Pageant since I have been attending these pageants in 2010.

Garifuna American ERIN ARZU surrounded by family upon being announced as The 2014 Miss Garifuna USA.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Garifuna American ERIN ARZU surrounded by family upon being announced as The 2014 Miss Garifuna USA. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

NOTE:  In a touching display of class, grace and community togetherness.  The Grandmother of Contestant Maribel Flores (representing San Antonio, Honduras), upon seeing Erin Arzu’s mother after The 2014 Miss Garifuna Pageant stepped forward and leaned in towards her while tenderly patting her on the shoulder.

Garifuna American ERIN ARZU being surrounded hugged by Miss Santa Fe, Yadelin Gil.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Garifuna American ERIN ARZU being hugged by Miss Santa Fe, Yadelin Gil. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

With a twinkle in her eye, and a smile on her face, she embraced Miss Erin Arzu’s mother warmly, and expressed congratulations to her for her daughter not only completing this journey, but proudly representing herself, her family name and Garifuna people during this unique pageant.   Maribel Flores’s grandmother was a recipient of a Casa Yurumein Barauda Award in 2012.

Garifuna American ERIN ARZU being crowned 2014 Miss Garifuna USA.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Garifuna American ERIN ARZU being crowned 2014 Miss Garifuna USA. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

 

I mention this to remind readers to keep a spiritual moment like that in mind while we pay deserved attention to the winners of this Cultural Pageant.  I try to remember that all this is about something bigger.

The 2014 Miss Garifuna USA Winner, Garifuna American ERIN ARZU.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

The 2014 Miss Garifuna USA Winner, Garifuna American ERIN ARZU. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.    

Special mention also needs to be made by the concerned family members and friends  of these contestants who sacrified considerable resources preparing these young ladies for this unique cultural pageant.  The trips to Casa Yurumein for training, the late-night sessions, etc.  It was quite a sight to see some of these young ladies rehearsing their speeches with their family members/friends on Saturday night at Casa Yurumein in the Bronx, which was their last rehearsal before the pageant.

BEING GARIFUNA extends a hearty Buidumebei (“Congratulations/Success!” in the Garifuna Language) to Miss Erin Arzu on her well-deserved victory and being crowned 2014 Miss Garifuna USA.

Garifuna American ERIN ARZU being crowned 2014 Miss Garifuna USA.  Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr.  All Rights Reserved.

Garifuna American ERIN ARZU being crowned 2014 Miss Garifuna USA. Photo by Teofilo Colon Jr. All Rights Reserved.

 

Comments

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One thought on “Garifuna American ERIN ARZU Is Crowned 2014 Miss Garifuna USA in Harlem

  1. I’m here to congratulate my Cousin Erin Arzu once again on this amazing accomplishment. God himself only knows how proud Myself and GAMAE Performing Arts Company are of you. You highly deserved that and you did your thing no matter what negative comments anybody else has to say. Erin you’re a perfect example of a role model for our younger members of the group. WE LOVE YOU!! Congrats

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