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What would the 4th of July be in Howard County without fireworks, ice cream and the QUITAPENAS.

The tropical Afro-Latino band, whose members are sons of immigrants from Guatemala and Mexico, is scheduled to perform before a crowd at downtown Columbia’s Lakefront during Thursday’s celebration, the result of a new partnership between the Columbia Association, one of the annual co-hosts of the July 4 Independence Day event, and the nonprofit Luminus Network for New Americans.

“Diversity is a pillar of Columbia. The Fourth of July is a celebration for our nation, and that means Americans of all experiences and backgrounds deserve to feel welcome and seen,” said Shawn MacInnes, CA’s new president/CEO, in a statement.

The collaboration shows what this holiday is all about: “the freedom to express ourselves and come together,” said Luminus CEO Gabriel Moreno in an interview.

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When real estate developer and urban planner James Rouse developed Columbia in the 1960s, he envisioned a planned city that would overcome racial and economic discrimination and segregation.

In 1970, three years after he founded the planned city, the population was 88% white, 11% black and 1% other groups, according to the Howard County Association of Community Services.

However, in 2023, some of Columbia’s population numbers were higher than Howard County’s overall population numbers, according to U.S. Census data. For example, in 2023, 28.2% of Columbia’s residents were Black and 9.1% were Hispanic or Latino, while the county as a whole was 21.7% Black and 8.9% were Hispanic or Latino, according to census data.

The collaboration on events is part of the effort to celebrate all cultures that exist in the country, Moreno said.

Luminus, which changed its name from the Foreign-born Information and Referral Network in 2021, works with immigrants from over 90 countries and offers services such as citizenship applications, work permit documents, resume writing and schooling for children. The nonprofit has been assisting immigrants in the country for over four decades.

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According to census data, about 28% of households in the county speak a language other than English at home.

“The immigration experience of my parents and many others, whether their ancestors or family members came to America voluntarily or not, is such an important part of the glorious fabric that binds us all, along with the Native American experience in the founding of the United States,” Moreno said in a statement.

On Thursday, Moreno introduces QUITAPENAS, which takes the stage before the fireworks portion of the night begins.

The band name means “to drive away worries,” according to the band’s website. “…QUITAPENAS’ mission is simple: to make you dance and take away your worries.”

Dave Simmons, program director of the Merriweather Arts and Culture Center, said in a statement that QUITAPENAS’ appearance was “a conscious decision to provide a sense of belonging to our Spanish-speaking friends and neighbors.”

For Thursday’s festivities, the Columbia Association has created a resource guide that includes the schedule, road closures, parking options and more. The Columbia Association is co-hosting the lakefront events with the county’s Recreation and Parks Department.