Lake Chapala Society Celebrates 60 Years!
By Barbara Hildt
On Saturday Nov. 7, 2015, the Lake Chapala Society will celebrate its 60th Anniversary with a grand all-day “Free-esta”. Dozens of lakeside non-profits and businesses will participate. There will be live music, dancing, displays and free food provided by local restaurants.
The remarkable history of LCS is something everyone living at Lakeside can appreciate and celebrate. In January of 1955 a group of 21 foreigners decided to establish a society to benefit both foreign residents and the Chapala community as a whole. Two committees were formed: Information Services and Mosquito Control. This tells us what two great issues for Lakesiders were 60 years ago.
Since its founding LCS has survived and thrived becoming what many of its 2,800 members consider to be their second home. Almost 300 volunteers help to provide more than 30 programs and services, including staffing the information and services desk, the English-language library with more than 25,000 titles, a video library of 4,000 titles, affordable Spanish classes, and free health services. And much more is offered to members, non-members, expats and members of the Mexican community.
LCS members, who give the equivalent of $3.00 USD a month to belong, have the satisfaction of being part of a service organization that is improving the lives of hundreds of Mexican children and adults each year by providing the only public library in the area with publications in Spanish, scholarships for 30 local students for higher education, free ESL classes, and the Children´s Art Program that for 60 years has nurtured the development of young local artists. Several program participants have become successful professional artists who currently volunteer to teach art to children each Saturday morning.
Free-esta Time! Anyone who appreciates LCS and all it provides to the community and to visitors to Lakeside will have good reason to attend the Nov. 7th celebratory international “Free-esta” on the LCS campus from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. An opening ceremony scheduled for 10:30 will acknowledge the significance of the occasion with young people and adults speaking briefly about how LCS has made a difference for them.
There will be a display of archival photographs showing what LCS was like in the early years and a new short video made by Harriet Hart and Roy Nolan will be shown repeatedly in the sala. It will trace LCS history with brief interviews and feature Neil James who started reading and art programs 60 years ago on her property, which is now home to LCS.
Children from Chapala will tell the myth of Lake Chapala through dance and the Children’s Choir of San Juan Cosala will perform. Twenty children from the art program will be dressed in costumes made by LCS Needlepushers to represent the cultures of countries where LCS members have originated. Great photo ops, so bring your camera!
Yoly Martinez, owner of Yoly´s Beauty Shop and President of the local Chamber of Commerce, has spent months visiting local business owners to ask them to show their appreciation for all LCS has done for our community by giving back in the form of food or other offerings for the “Free-esta.” Their response has been enthusiastic and generous. Those attending the festival sample free snacks offered by local restaurants. Soft drinks and water will be free. A cash bar will be open from 12 -7 pm serving beer, wine, Margaritas and other mixed drinks.
Up to 20 Lakeside non-profits will have booths along with local restaurants and other businesses that are contributing to the “Free-esta.” Live music for dancing or just listening will also be provided by a variety of groups including Javier Reygoza’s Orchestra Typica, Blanca and Ricardo, and Noe. LCS members will welcome all expats and Mexicans to join this lively celebration of Lake Chapala Society’s first 60 years. So mark your calendars!