FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Domino dealing, empanada eating and dancing to live Latin music were all part of the festivities at this year's Hispanic Heritage Celebration Saturday at Patriots Park.

More than a thousand Fort Jackson community members attended Saturday's event, which included food, informational booths and activities depicting the many traditions and cultures that are celebrated within the Hispanic population.

The fiesta began with a Salsa dance performance by Blanca Flores and Chris Flores of the Con Sabor Dance Company, and a music performance by Panamanian artist Buay Calito, who specializes in Reggaeton - a mix of hip-hop, Caribbean reggae and traditional Latino music.

Zumba fitness instructor Carmen Thomas and her class showed the crowd some moves from what has become one of the most popular fitness crazes around the world.

Edda Delacruz, who is of Mexican descent, brought her daughter Ximena Segarra, 7, who is of Mexican and Puerto Rican lineage, to the event to expose her to the cultures within her own heritage.

"We have so many cultures in America we should be exposed to everything so we understand each other more," Delacruz said. "There's a mix of everything here. If you haven't been exposed to the Hispanic culture, this provides good samples of it - a little bit of food, a little bit of dancing and music."

Guest speaker Tanya Rodriguez-Hodges, president and CEO of Latino Communications, said she was proud to see so many people with so much Latin pride.

"I was moved almost to tears," Rodriguez-Hodges said.

"I'm so proud of Fort Jackson for continuing with this tradition and making (National Hispanic Heritage Month) and this day as important as it is," she said.

Sgt. Maj. Angie Blanchette, sergeant major of the equal opportunity proponent of the U.S. Army Soldier Support Institute, which hosted the event, said she was overjoyed by the turnout.

"I think it was great," Blanchette said. "It was an absolute success."

Page last updated Wed October 6th, 2010 at 16:06