Roger Williams Park filled with thousands of people today for the 30th annual Dominican Festival. This year organizers say it has a special meaning. The Dominican Festival was a celebration of culture and tradition, something organizers say is important now more than ever with acts of violence happening nationwide.
For 30 years, the sounds of Dominican music have filled the air in Providence, the annual festival preserving the arts and culture of the Dominican Republic.
"For people from other countries to see the great contributions the Dominicans have contributed to the city of Providence and this is a way to stay thank you to the city of Providence for welcoming us," says Marilyn Cepeda, an event organizer.
It draws tens of thousands of people, including state legislators, a sign of how strong the Dominican community is in Rhode Island.
"We are proud of the Dominican community here," Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said to the crowd.
"The contributions that the Dominican community has made to Providence and to Rhode Island are extraordinary. [This is] a tribute to diversity and it's important to remember that Rhode Island is a better place because of our diversity and America is a better country because of our diversity," added Representative David Cicilline.
Accepting that diversity is important to those celebrating their culture.
"I think it's important for us to stay in touch with our roots and be more proud of who we are even with those who may not be as accepting of who we are," says Providence resident Brianna Polanco.
And despite being indicted on embezzlement charges, former Providence City Council President Luis Aponte still played a role in the celebration.
"He has contributed so much and people make mistakes and I'm sure a lot of people questioned it but you know what, he did the work," says Cepeda.
Organizers say despite what happened yesterday in Charlottesville, they were not worried about security and had several providence police officers and a private security team at the event.