Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15-October 15 and celebrates the history and culture of Americans whose ancestors are from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
This year we chose four pillars to best represent the month: Flags, Food, Family and Music and Dancing.
This year the Seahawks are rolling out a new design for La Gente, which features the different countries' flags that encapsulate Hispanic Heritage Month. This year we wanted to feature the flags to illustrate the inclusion of Latin America in the celebration of the month.
The Seahawks chose the saying "La Gente" that is widely recognized across Latin America to mean "the people". The phrase is used for friends, family, communities and fans.
On Seahawks' game days you can find many options to curb your cravings like Maria Luisa Empanadas and Manu's Tacos. Maria Luisa was founded in 2018 by Rodrigo Cappagli based on his grandmother's passion for empanadas. Manu's Tacos is ran by Manu Alfau, who is the owner and first started out his food adventure with Manu's Bodega, a tiny Cuban sandwich shop in Seattle.
Alfau says at that time, there wasn't diversity in the food scene like you can find today.
"We rolled the dice trying to showcase the flavors I grew up eating and it worked! Folks would line up to try new things like empanadas made of cassava dough filled with different meats and veggies, the signature puerco asado sándwich, which competed directly with Paseo, back in the day. We were pushing the envelope back in 2013 when we opened." Alfau said.
After having success with the Bodega, Alfau opened Manu's Tacos to continue exploring Latin American food and flavors.
"These were more familiar to folks because of our proximity to Mexican and our love for tacos," Alfau said. "Bringing these flavors to Seahawks fans is quite the treat, because it's not every day a brown kid like me gets the chance to put his food in front of 70,000 hungry fans, so we are super grateful to continue to do so."
Cappagli said it's great to be able to share his food, inspired by his grandmother.
"It's a profound privilege for me to share our empanadas," Cappagli said. "And a slice of Argentine culture with fans on gameday. These events are a celebration of unity and excitement, and being a part of them is truly special. It means introducing our heritage to new friends, offering a taste of Argentina's warmth, flavors, and that unforgettable chimichurri tang, adding an extra layer of joy to these memorable occasions.
Music and Dancing
When Seahawks Dancer Victor Sanchez's mother was 16, she and his father moved to the United States from Sinaloa, Mexico in search for a better life.
"I would not be a University of Washington graduate, a Paralegal at Wilson Law Group of Washington, and a Seahawks Dancer if not for the 26 years my mom sacrificed being away from her home in an effort to provide my siblings and I an abundance of opportunity and a better way of life." Sanchez said.
Having moved so far away from Mexico, Sanchez said he watched his mother navigate a new country, a new language, and a new reality.
It's been 26 years since his mother has seen his grandmother and soon, they will be reunited.
"After a three-year immigration process and 26 years of being away from home, it will be the first time my mom will surround herself with childhood friends, the streets she played in as a child, and most importantly, her mother and siblings. My mother has waited 26 years to hug her mom, 20 years to finally meet her youngest sibling, born after she left Mexico, and the first time that her mother will meet my seven-year-old brother." Sanchez said.
That strong bond with his family is what led to some of his first recollections of dance.
"My earliest memories of dancing takes place when I was a child and danced with my aunties at family gatherings. Little did I know as a young kid that I was not only learning movement and dance, but I was learning about and connecting to my culture." Sanchez said.
Music and dance have played an integral role in Sanchez's life and his Mexican heritage has influenced that.
"Mexican culture is overflowing with a beautiful blend of music and dance," Sanchez said. "Dancing to corridos, banda, and many different genres of dance that fall within the Regional Mexican music umbrella, created a fundamental foundation that made exploring dance at the age of 16 a lot easier."
Fast forward to seven years since Sanchez has been in high school, he is now living in a dream that he once thought was impossible. He is in his second season as a Seahawks Dancer.
"Thinking about the absence of queer identifying, hispanic, male professional dancers I had growing up, I am honored to now be a role model to the younger kids that look like me," Sanchez said. "I have accomplished and achieved many of my dreams because of the influence and foundation provided by my cultural heritage."
If you've lived in Seattle long enough, you have probably had food from Paseo's or the closely related Un Bien. They're both Caribbean sandwich restaurants and owned by family relatives. Seahawks safety Julian Love has a connection to both of those restaurants.
Love's grandmother's brother Lorenzo Lorenzo founded Paseo and Lorenzo's two sons took after their father, used his recipes, and opened Un Bien.
"It's the signature recipe. It's the old school Paseo and new school Un Bien recipe." Love said.
Love is from Chicago and having the Seattle relation before getting here shows just how deep family connections run.
Around the holidays, Love says one of their family traditions during Christmas is to stay up late on Christmas Eve to make tamales, which is a food popular in Hispanic cultures. The dish is corn dough with a filling – usually meat and vegetables, that are cooked while wrapped in a corn husk.
While Paseo and Un Bien don't serve tamales they do have an assortment of Cuban sandwiches.
"I'm a simple guy. I love white rice and black beans," Love said. "Sandwich wise I always get the Caribbean Roast. Classic marinade, the bread is good. The ingredients are money."
Later this month the Seahawks will be hosting another "Happy Hour with the Hawks" event at Un Bien.
This month we will also be nominating two Hispanic flag football students for the Hispanic Heritage Youth Award at our Hispanic Heritage game vs the Panthers at Lumen Field on September 24. The award gives seniors educational grants and recognizes them as leaders to be celebrated in their communities. The two seniors are Markcos Montes-A.C. Davis and Eliezer (Eli) Fernandez-Sunnyside.
Seahawks fans can enjoy offerings from more than 40 esteemed local restaurant partners. More than 25 of the restaurant partners serving at Lumen Field this season are from within five miles of the stadium neighborhoods of SODO, Chinatown/International District and Pioneer Square.