I grew up in Puerto Rico…

… and came to New York when I was 17 years old. In 1980 I moved to Las Vegas. I was the first Puerto Rican singer here and performed at the Marina, the Hacienda, the Las Vegas Inn, and many other hotels and resorts.

People would come to see me, and that’s how I started to get to know others from Puerto Rico who were living here.  The Puerto Rican Association of Las Vegas is a community organization that I helped for many years.

We always made pasteles at home during the Christmas season. I learned from my aunt. My daughter is very good at making the pasteles and comes to help me. I feel proud that I am passing this tradition on to my family and friends.

I would like it to keep going. It brings happiness, warmth and a sense of family to our gatherings. Our food is the first thing for us, and we are proud of it because it’s different and original. As Puerto Ricans, whatever we do, we do well, and we are proud of our heritage and culture.

Monica Ortiz, Puerto Rican Association of Las Vegas, Las Vegas

Click here for the next story in the Find Your Folklife Exhibit