During a breakfast luncheon Monday morning in Washington, D.C., as part of the League of Cities’ annual conference, Mayor Myrtle Figueras accepted the runner-up title for the Cultural Diversity Award for cities 25,000-100,000 in population size.
"I thought it was just so special — even though I told the girl she should have given us first place," Figueras said in a phone interview. She will be returning Wednesday.
The National League of Cities encompasses about 5,000 cities around the country.
This was the only award Gainesville applied for, Figueras said, and it honors the annual Christmas is One Language concert organized by the Gainesville Multicultural Committee.
Enrique Montiel, chairman of the committee, said that concert has been the focus of the group for its 12-year existence. The group has offered additional concerts in the past, including a Cultural Crossroads concert in 2002 and a few Latin galas held in conjunction with the Quinlan Visual Arts Center, he said.
This Saturday, the Multicultural Committee will present singer Corinne Oviedo with the Angelic Voices choir from St. John Baptist Church in Gainesville. The event will continue the Multicultural Committee’s aim to promote diversity in the city, he said.
"Corinne is a very interesting singer and has an amazing voice that goes through the register amazingly," Montiel said. "She can sing classical, Latin, bossanova — her range is amazing.
"She is originally from Florida, and she has Latin blood — Dominican and Cuban, born and raised in the U.S. — so that makes for an interesting combination."
The concert will be at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Arts Council complex at 201 Green St. Figueras said the League of Cities awarded Gainesville with a silver bow, which she will have on display at this weekend’s event.
And along with the concert, Figueras said the award is one more way the city can celebrate its many cultures.
"We thought we had cultural diversity in Gainesville," Figueras said, adding that when many people think of cultural diversity in the city, "people tend to think Hispanic. And yes, we are proud of our Hispanic citizens. But we have many different cultures in Gainesville."
And that diversity is the driving force behind the Christmas is One Language concert, she said.
"Anyone who is diverse and speaks different languages, and that’s what the Christmas is One Language concert is all about."