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13-foot-tall La Muñeca Lele Doll to Highlight Fiesta Mexicana #54 – September 8-10 at Calder Plaza in Downtown Grand Rapids

The Mexican Heritage Association of West Michigan (MHAWM) proudly presents Fiesta Mexicana #54 – also known as “Los Colores de Mexico” – a cherished tradition celebrating the vibrant Mexican culture that has enriched the West Michigan community for generations – September 8-10 at Calder Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids. As the largest Latin ethnic group in West Michigan, the community’s rich culture and spirit continues to flourish during this free family event.

Fiesta Mexicana stands as the association’s flagship event, boasting a remarkable history as one of Grand Rapids’ longest-standing ethnic festivals. For an impressive 54 years, Calder Plaza has been transformed into a hub of joy, where music, dance, art, and delectable food come together over three unforgettable days.

A highlight this year is the featured appearance of a 13-foot-tall handmade artisan La Muñeca Lele doll, which is on world tour. Lele, which means “baby” in Otomi, is originally from the municipality of Amealco, Querétaro, and was named Cultural Heritage of the state of Querétaro on April 18, 2018. The doll is identified by its long braids, crown of colored ribbons and their traditional clothing, characteristic of their creators who preserve their Otomí origin, which are expressed through their crafts, gastronomy and festivities. This handmade doll represents the effort of thousands of Mexican artisan women, since in addition to Querétaro, today it is also made in states such as the State of Mexico, Hidalgo and Veracruz.

Lele’s appearance is more than festive, it is educational and diplomatic.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE), through the General Directorate of Political Coordination and the Executive Directorate of Strategy and Public Diplomacy, in collaboration with the Government of the State of Querétaro, launched the public diplomacy campaign #LelePorElMundo, within the framework of the XXXIV Meeting of Ambassadors and Consuls 2023.

The objective of the initiative is to disseminate internationally, through the Network of Embassies and Consulates of Mexico, the cultural manifestations and traditions of our communities, as well as their ethnic and linguistic diversity, making use of their artistic and craft exponents, referents of Mexican public diplomacy.

Lele, which today has a presence on five continents, began its journey around the world in Baku, Azerbaijan. The #LelePorElMundo initiative is the first stage of a series of public diplomacy elements related to the local sphere that will be disseminated around the world. The objective is to promote actors and revalue Mexican references directly from the local level through the institutional link that the SRE carries out with the different levels of government, state and municipal, to contribute to their internationalization, as has been the commitment of Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard.

The project seeks, through an exercise in Mexican public diplomacy, to disseminate and revalue the work of Mexican artisans, as well as to promote knowledge and promote the traditions of our communities.

The Fiesta Mexicana kicks off at noon on Friday, September 8 at Calder Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids and will run through 7pm on Sunday, September 10 (see online / attached schedule).

Featured events include:

Friday, September 8

  • 5pm — La Muñeca Lele ribbon cutting at Calder Plaza

Saturday, September 9

  • 7pm — “Grito de Independencia” (Independence Day Grito) Ceremony, in collaboration with the Consulate of Mexico in Detroit, at Calder Plaza.