We Are Melrose (WAM) Community Festival

Saturday, July 8, 2023 ~ 12pm-6:00pm.

Nos Quedamos is delighted to announce that its annual community-wide celebration, WE ARE MELROSE (WAM) Community Festival, is scheduled for Saturday, June 10th from 12pm until 6:00pm! Download event flyer HERE

This year’s theme is “WE STAYED: And Flourished.” The festival will take place at Yolanda García Park (named after Nos Quedamos’ founder), located at Melrose Avenue and 159th Street. We will also be celebrating Nos Quedamos’ 30th anniversary (NQ 3.0 – Past, Present & Future)!

As you can imagine, we couldn’t be happier than to celebrate three decades of innovative community-led work and to showcase the best cultural ambassadors of the Bronx in a multitude of LIVE in-person entertainment, from dancing, music, spoken word and poetry, performing arts and more in the heart of the South Bronx: MELROSE COMMONS. The event is a family-friendly gathering with lots for everyone to enjoy, including organized game-play, face-painting, raffles, as well as a dynamic culturally grounded story-telling session geared to younger audiences and family. In addition, numerous service providers will be tabling to share a wealth of relevant and timely resources throughout the day from health to housing, and more (including give-aways and swag).

Designed by Laura Alvárez (@bigeyesworld)

One of the capstones of this festive and diverse multi-cultural celebration is Nos Quedamos’ annual HARVESTING CULTURE AWARDS that celebrate Community, Culture & Commitment.

These awards recognize the bountiful accomplishments of Bronx pioneers and stakeholders who have made positive contributions to the well-being and forward development of Melrose Commons and South Bronx. This year we will recognize 11 dynamic, community-minded champions across a spectrum of vocations and commitments, including an emerging voice making a marked impact. Read more about the 2023 award recipients HERE.

Take a look at last year’s awardess HERE.

Caridad de la Luz - "la Bruja" - Event MC

Caridad de la Luz ("La Bruja")

CARIDAD DE LA LUZ, a.k.a. “La Bruja” (The “Good” Witch), is a Nuyorican (a New York-born Puerto Rican) poet, playwright, actress and activist. She is considered one of the leading spoken word poets in the world. In 2005, El Diario La Prensa, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in New York City, named De la Luz as one of the “Fifty Most Distinguished Latinas in the United States.”

De la Luz made her debut as an artist in 1996, when she first took the microphone at the Nuyorican Poets Café and received a standing ovation.

She has also shared her work on HBO’s Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam, and at the American Museum of Natural History.

She has produced the album Brujalicious and the solo comedy show Boogie Rican Blvd. As an actor she has appeared onscreen in Spike Lee’s Bamboozled and onstage in Pedro Pietri’s El Spanglish Language Sandwich. Her honors include a Jerome Foundation Artist Fellowship, a Puerto Rican Women Legacy Award, and the Edgar Allan Poe Award from The Bronx County Historical Society.

In 2022, she won an Emmy as Script Writer for Legacy of Puerto Rican Poetry on ABC, a cultural short produced in Puerto Rico. De la Luz lives in the Bronx.


Zayda Rivera and José Ortíz (Dr. Drum)

Zayda Rivera

ZAYDA RIVERA is the founder of Mindful Living with Z, which she launched in 2019 following a near-death experience. After more than a decade of practicing meditation and yoga, Z answered the call to take a deeper dive in healing modalities to heal herself and others. She became a certified Reiki Master-Teacher, yoga instructor, meditation guide, and tarot reader. Z is also a spiritual mentor, assisting others who seeking a deeper connection with the Divine.

Doctor Drum
José Ortíz

The Healing Dome is a sound/vibration listening station designed for relaxation, releasing stress and mental wellness as harnessing the medicinal properties of sonic and kinetic energy as an alternative therapeutic method for healing. This meditative exercise will be facilitated by José Ortíz, aka Dr. Drum (director of the Puerto Rican percussion group Bomba Yo).


The Board of Directors, Chief Executive Officer and Staff of We Stay/Nos Quedamos, Inc. would like to extend you aspecial invitation to join us for the street renaming ceremony of East160th and Melrose Avenue. On this special occasion, we unite in honoring our 30-year legacy of community-led power & transformation on behalf of the residents of Melrose Commons and the people of the South Bronx. Councilmember Rafael Salamanca, Jr. will afficiate the ceremony at 2pm sharp. Download Invite HERE


Jesús "Plapoleto" Meléndez

JESÚS “PAPOLETO” MELÉNDEZ, also known as “Papo”, or “Papoleto”, (born June 13, 1950) is a New York-born Puerto Rican poet, playwright, teacher, and activist. He is a member of the Nuyorican Movement. He grew up during the Civil Rights Movement, Black Power movement, and the emergence of the Nuyorican Movement in East Harlem. His titles include the play The Junkies Stole the Clock (1974), and Hey Yo/Yo Soy! 40 Years of Nuyorican Street Poetry.

His honors include a fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Louis Reyes Rivera Lifetime Achievement Award, an Artist for Community Enrichment Award from the Bronx Council on the Arts, and a joint fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and Combined Arts of San Diego. Melendez lives in New York City.

Melendez’s poetry collections include Casting Long Shadows (1970), Street Poetry & Other Poems (1972), Concertos on Market Street (1993), and the bilingual volume Hey Yo! Yo Soy! 40 Years of Nuyorican Street Poetry: The Collected Work of Jesús Papoleto Melendez (2012, volume 1). His work is also featured in Nuyorican Poetry: An Anthology of Puerto Rican Words and Feeling (1975, edited by Miguel Algarin and Miguel Pinero), Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam (2001, edited by Tony Medina and Louis Reyes Rivera), and The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature (2011, edited by Edna Acosta-Belén, Harold Augenbraum, María Herrera-Sobek, Rolando Hinojosa, and Gustavo Pérez Firmat). His play “The Junkies Stole the Clock,” was produced by Joseph Papp’s Public Theatre, New York Shakespeare Festival’s Nuyorican Playwrights’ Unit.

More about Papoleto: Instagram

Bonafide Rojas

BONAFIDE ROJAS is a poet, musician, artist, performer, and teacher, was born in New York on October 8, 1977. Although he spent part of his childhood in Levittown, Puerto Rico, Rojas was raised in the Bronx.

Rojas is the author of four poetry collections: Notes on the Return to the Island (Grand Concourse Press, 2017); Renovatio (Grand Concourse Press, 2014); When the City Sleeps (Grand Concourse Press, 2012); and Pelo Bueno: A Day in the Life of a Nuyorican Poet (Dark Souls Press, 2004). He has also participated in HBO’s Def Poetry Jam.

In 2018, Rojas received the BRIO Award for Poetry from the Bronx Council on the Arts. In 2022, he was named an inaugural Letras Boricuas Fellow by the Flamboyan Foundation. Rojas resides in the Bronx & only wears red socks. 

More about Bonafide: Instagram


Kinto Zonó

Kinto Kinó
Kinto Zonó

Kinto Zonó  was formed in 2017, under the direction of Nelson “Mateo” Gonzalez (who grew up at Rincón Criollo in the South Bronx), Jorge “Georgie” Vazquez, and George “Nate” Velasquez. Kinto Zonó is an 11-piece ensemble consisting of two brass, piano, bass, and full-on percussion bringing the sounds of Puerto Rico with a modern twist and a New York style of playing plena and bomba. Kinto Zonó had the privilege to share stages such as Plena Libre, Bobby Sanabria, El Gran Combo and many more. Their mission is to keep the musical tradition of Puerto Rico alive and fresh with a New York attitude, and Kinto Zonó is in the forefront of these new musical innovations.

Chief Joseph Chatoyer Dance Company

Chief Joseph Chatoyer Dance Company

CHIEF JOSEPH CHATOYER DANCE COMPANY is committed to showcase Garifuna culture with an educational experience that involves drumming, singing and dancing as a means of preserving and raising awareness about our cultural heritage, language, history, and multiple-task dance forms.

The Garifuna folkloric ballet company was founded in February 2009 in New York City with eight members, and named to honor the legacy of a brave Garifuna men who fought fearlessly against the European influence in defense of our territories in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and received a positive and overwhelming reception from our Garifuna community, especially from the younger generations who embraced our traditions as a connecting point to its related historical and cultural legacy. The founders understood the importance that tangible cultural heritage is not the cultural manifestation itself but rather the wealth of knowledge and skills that is transmitted through it from one generation to the next. The South Bronx represents one of the largest converging points of the Garifuna diaspora.

MazArte Dance Company

MAZARTE DANCE COMPANY is inspired by traditional Mexican dances and brings its folklore back to life, combining dance, research and indigenous art. Our work honors the cultural vastness of Mexico as they embody the fusion of Mexico’s old and new as part of Mazarte’s mission to preserve these dances for the community and generations to come. MazArte endeavors to create a union between dance, research and indigenous art to promote our Mexican cultural heritage, bring history to life and produce educational programs to our communities. We want to expand cultural awareness and an appreciation that will nurture diversity and inclusivity. More about MazArte Dance Company

MazArte Dance Company. Photo: Ed Álvarez (@inthebx)

Mariachi Real de México

MARIACHI REAL DE MEXICO was founded in 1991 by Ramon Ponce and his son Ramon Ponce Jr. This year Mariachi Real de Mexico is proudly celebrating 31 year. Mariachi Real de Mexico is considered to be the ambassador of Mariachi music and the most important and sought after mariachi ensemble in New York City and the North East of the United States. 

Since the beginning Mariachi Real de Mexico has had great acceptance by the general public. They have done countless of public and private events such as: Concerts, Corporate Events, Festivals, VIP, Fundraisers, Weddings, Birthdays and all types of social events. 

With the help of several organizations Mariachi Real de Mexico founded The Mariachi Academy of New York (MANY) opened its doors on July 2002. MANY is a non-profit organization 501c3 devoted to teach the beautiful music and tradition of mariachi. This is the first program of its kind on the entire East Coast of the United States. The idea for the Mariachi Academy of New York came from the Ponces due to the high interest in Mariachi music by the general public. Mariachi Real de Mexico is proud to be part of this program thus keeping the beautiful music and Mariachi Tradition Alive! More about Mariachi Real de Mexico

Mariachi Real de México

For more information, contact Edwin Pagán (event program curator) at epagan@nosquedamos.org.


WE ARE MELROSE - In The News (2018, 2019)