TAMPA, Fla. — September 15 through October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month. The Hispanic community has always been a cultural touchstone in the Sunshine State, especially in the Tampa Bay area.
"I'm so happy to be Cuban, and knowing that even though I live here in the U.S., my roots continue to live within me," said Odelma Matos.
You don't have to travel far to get a taste of Latin Spice, and no two Hispanic countries are alike.
"A lot of people from Venezuela, Columbia, Nicaragua, Panama, Mexico, you name it, they are all here," said Rafael Fuentes, President of Tampa Hispanic Heritage Inc.
Passion runs through the veins of Hispanics, and you can especially see it around Ybor City, from the way they roll cigars to the food that feeds their souls.
For hundreds of year, the Bay Area has offered immigrants the opportunities to be successful in ways that often wouldn't be possible in their home countries.
"Here, you have the opportunity to have anything you want," said Odelma, who has been rolling cigars since she was 15 years old back in Cuba.
"I'm really proud to be Hispanic...having the opportunities to execute my dreams here," Yanko Maceda expressed.
Most families came to the United States with nothing, yet fought wearing the armor of hope to one day live the American Dream.
Hispanic Heritage Month is not just about the names you read in history books, but it's about the mothers, fathers, and grandparents that overcame adversity and made something great.