Sea and Air Festival special activities kicked off on Thursday, August 21, with Children's Day at Central Park.
The festival gates were bustling as Honduras' National Anthem was being played; signaling the commencement of Honduras Night. El Quadro Nacional de Dansas Folkloricos de Honduras illuminated the stage with their colorful costumes and superb dance routine. The group was formed in 1956 and in 1958 made its first international tour. The group consists of 22 members - only 12 members participated in the festival. The group has performed in the United States, Central American, Colombia, Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. In 1992 the group traveled to Europe and performed in Spain.
"This is our first time in San Pedro, Belize and we are very impressed with its beauty," said Mr. Carlos Raul Valladares, director of the group. "It is so beautiful how all these countries can join together in the celebration of a common culture and folklore. I am seeing that the Festival is very well attended and it makes me very happy to see this kind of unity between the Mundo Maya countries." Mr. Valladares also added that the people of San Pedro have been extremely kind and warm-hearted towards them and he hopes to return some day.
The crowd's excitement rose as Los Gatos Bravos took to the stage. The band, clad in red and black and equipped with an unmeasurable supply of energy, had the crowd dancing to their first selection. Gatos Bravos members invited people to dance with them on stage and conducted dance contests. Their fast-paced punta, merengue, cumbia and disco selections made Los Gatos Bravos one of the favorite bands at the festival. Los Gatos Bravos was formed 25 years ago and was the first band to record "Punta" music in Honduras. The band started out very small and only performed at weddings, and private parties where they were requested. Their popularity grew and they found themselves performing at important events and being invited to other countries. Los Gatos Bravos performed in Belize City on September 21, 1981 for the first Belizean Independence Day celebrations. They plan 2 tours every year in United States and Canada.
Alfonso Flores, Director and Manager of the band, said that although this was their first trip to San Pedro, they had heard about La Isla Bonita and were happy to participate in the festival. "It feels so great to be here," said Mr. Flores. "Our band is so excited that they can come to such a lovely place to perform and share in the culture that our Mayan ancestors have given us." Los Gatos Bravos has 13 compact disc albums and 18 music videos of their most popular hits. Los Gatos Bravos were partially sponsored by Michael Hotchandani.
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