Best Of 2023: My Top 5 Library Programs I Had The Most Fun Creating!

Hola everyone!

2023 has been amazing! I’ve had a blast creating programs for you! Here’s a countdown of my TOP 5.

Before we get into it, allow me to do quick honorable mentions:

 

 

Honorable mention #1

Guitar Basics – July 10, 2023 – In English

I started a three-part guitar basics series this summer. It’s been enjoyable watching a group of guitar players together, all in a room jamming along to guitar tabs and theory exercises! Learning together is always fun!

Guitar Basics Part 3 will be Feb. 26, 2024, 6pm. Come rock with us! Save your spot here. (Also, be on the lookout for Drumming Basics 2024)

A group of guitar students working on guitar exercises

 

Honorable mention #2

Mentes Creativas: Hagamos un Terrario – May 8, 2023 – En Español

Being scheduled close to Mother’s Day, I was very happy to see moms come in with their teen children to work on mini terrariums as a family. Each added their own personal touch and these creations turned out to be very unique designs. 

mini terrarium

 

Honorable mention #3

Poetry and Song Night – June 26, 2023 -- Bilingual

There were many cool things about this program. A lot of talented folks came to this one. One of my favorite things was the good-vibes ambience that was created by the local poets and musicians as they showcased their works. There was one patron that recited in Spanish a fervent love poem with a tragic ending that made me cry. I think we all cried. It was beautiful.

Reciting poetry on stage

 

Now, let’s dive into my Top 5 :)

 

Number 5 – Día de Los Muertos Window Mural – October - November

Okay, the window mural was not a program, but honestly to me, the window mural was an event itself! I love art and genuinely appreciate all the hard work behind it. It pleases me to watch an artist at work. It was nice to escaped the work room a couple of times to catch the artist submerged in creativity mode. This strikingly beautiful window painting made our building pop through October and November. It was vibrant, playful, and the characters made you smile. This was a great way to celebrate life for Día de Los Muertos at the library. The best part is that it was painted by local artist Kathryn Eli. In case you missed it, below is a recap I produced just for you. Check out the full blog post here. For all these reasons, the window mural is my number 5!

 

 

 

Number 4 – Selena Fest -- April 16, 2023 -- Bilingual

Who doesn’t like Selena? A strong Latina with a powerful voice, a barrier-breaker with a fun sense of humor, an incredible dancer that developed her own unique style, a bright businesswoman and entrepreneur that left her mark in fashion, a beautiful Mexican American woman proud of her roots, and the list goes on and on, but above all, she was a wonderful human being. Selena will forever live in our hearts.

Why not create a program to celebrate her life?

The event started with a fun choreography to the song “La Carcacha.” I enjoyed putting the steps together, and it was so gratifying seeing all the smiling faces as we danced. Next, we had a live guitar tribute, a Selena costume contest, a singing homage, and cool prizes. All of this was topped with gorgeous Selena themed decorations made by my coworkers Lizbeth and Amy. I remember receiving great compliments about everything, even the snacks and refreshments. The horchata was the hit of the day! Teamwork all the way!

The Selena Fest season brought us a set of other super cool Selena related programs like our Selena Fan Art Contest where patrons submitted their own original pieces, and Selena The Movie Night.

Selena fan art gallery

 

Performed by my bandmate Dan and yours truly, here’s the Selena guitar tribute. We even did a dramatic intro for all of you. 

 

 

 

Number 3 – FRVPLD Battle of the Bands – August 12, 2023 – In English

The programs got more and more exciting as the year progressed. We organized our first ever Battle of the Bands at the library! It got loud in here with hard-hitting drums, crunchy guitar riffs, aggressive bass slaps, electrifying keys, and blasting punk vocals. We had seven remarkable bands, first-class judges, a notable coach, and an outstanding audience. I felt like I was inside one of those tv talent shows. The judges were awarding points as Mr. Bishop, the coach, took thorough notes of every band and spent 15-20 min with each individually, giving them helpful feedback to optimize their performance, songwriting, and musicianship overall.

The genres ranged from dark electro-pop to punk, alternative, and acoustic. We had full bands, duos, and singer songwriters all competing for the title of best band!

My favorite part was witnessing the sense of community and camaraderie that developed through the day. All the competing bands were supportive and rooting for each other. A kindhearted sense of “we’re in this together” swirling in the atmosphere.  

Did I mention the prizes yet? One of the coolest compliments from the bands was how cool the prizes were. I worked very hard to ensure this so that comment went directly to my heart. Some of the prizes were a professional photo shoot session, a music video, and a concert performance at the library just to name a few. 

A big THANKS to Gene, I couldn’t have done it without you!

 

The Winning Bands

First Place Winner: A Random Drive

Second Place Winner: Early Autumn Station

Third Place Winner: Soaking Up Sandcastles

 

Certificate of Appreciation Bands

Paradise Paradigm

The Tragedies

Tranquil Ends

Three Day Weekend

Battle of the Bands Recap

Click here for the full Battle of the Bands blog.

Did you miss the battle? Are you interested in attending or performing summer 2024? Let me know. dmartinez@frvpld.info

 

 

Number 2 – Intro to Latin Dance: merengue and mambo – November 8, 2023 -- Bilingual

I started the “Intro to Latin Dance” series because I love dancing. I’ve worked professionally as a choreographer for weddings and quinceañeras, and the experience has always been rewarding when I see the performance on the big day. Plus it’s a fun workout. During each program, we learn the basics of two dance styles. My favorite one so far has been mambo. Mambo is such a sensational dance style with short, sharp movements, some kicks, and flicks and the aaahhhh hooooo vocal sound. All these ingredients make mambo exceptionally entertaining!

This program happens once a quarter. The next Intro to Latin Dance is on January 29, 2024, at 6pm. We’ll learn cha-cha and quebradita dancing. Don’t miss it! Sign up here.

mambo dancers posing for a pic

 

 

Number 1 – Leyendas de Terror Mexicanas – November 1, 2023 – En Español

This is it! Number one! ¡Número uno! Leyendas de Terror Mexicanas.

Mexico is a very mysterious and magical country. The richness in culture, archeology, traditions, and folklore are all perfect ingredients for spectacular legends, especially horror legends! I can’t express how amazing this program was.

The original idea was for this to take place outdoors campfire style, listening to a storyteller while enjoying pan de muerto and hot cocoa. The weather was not favorable, so we moved indoors. Best decision ever! Being indoors, we added spooky lighting and creepy ambience music like forest sounds and ghostly murmurs.  All of this from the genius mind of my coworker Erica. She also placed a green light reflected on bat decorations on the wall that created shadows making them look bigger than they were. Everyone sat together in a circle while I narrated the legends of horror. Everything came together frightfully well.

This took me back to when I was a kid living in Mexico. At my grandma’s house, story time meant fantastic legends of courageous heroes and terrifying villains. It was culture and identity all mixed in awesomeness!

Sadly, I don’t have any pictures of this event.

 

In conclusion, this was a memorable year of programs. Thank you 2023. I can’t wait to see what 2024 brings. :)