Telluride’s Latino community might be diverse, with Argentinians, Chileans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, Mexicans, Peruvians, Salvadorans and others all calling Telluride home. A common thread, however, runs through these cultures: a deep and abiding belief that Christmas is primarily about spending time with family and friends.

On Sunday from 4-7 p.m. in the Telluride Middle/High School cafeteria, La Fiesta de Papa Noel, which is supported by the Tri-County Health Network, the Wilkinson Public Library, Bright Futures and the San Miguel Resource Center, will celebrate this emphasis that the holidays are a time for loved ones.

The event will include bingo — with prizes — a piñata and an appearance from Papa Noel himself, who will have gifts for the children. Another highlight? The contest for the best dish of the evening. Prepare and bring a favorite dish and you could end up a winner. You will also get to share your dish when the entire group sits down to a potluck dinner as part of the festivities.

Marlen Olivas Romero, a cultural navigator with Tri-County Health Network and one of the event’s organizers, emphasized that all of Telluride is welcome.

“It’s open to the entire community,” Olivas Romero said. “The purpose is to be together.”

She added that many members of Telluride’s Latino community are far from loved ones all year long, something that can be especially difficult during the holiday season.

“Many of us are away from our families and sometimes Christmas can be very lonely,” she said. “Christmas is a family time, a time to feel warm and loved.”

What better way then, than to throw a fiesta like this with activities for children, the cooking contest and then the potluck?

It’s also a chance to show the diversity that exists within Telluride’s Latino community.

“People will bring many different types of traditional foods like ceviche, posole, tamales,” Olivas Romero said. “They will bring food typical of their (home country).”

Ximena Rebolledo León, a member of the Latino Advisory Committee, commented, “A lot of people think of Telluride’s immigrant population as predominantly from Mexico or Guatemala. I think it’s really fun to show up and find you’re eating Peruvian, Argentinian, Honduran and Salvadoran food. It’s very varied, which is nice. Not only is it a culinary treat, it’s a cultural treat.”

She added, “Even in our Latinx population, when new people come in, they say, ‘You’re from Mexico, I’m from Mexico. Therefore, we’re friends.’ It opens up an opportunity for even the Latinx population to mingle with people that they otherwise might not.”

Beyond the diversity issue, Olivas Romero explained that the Fiesta de Papa Noel is a chance for the Latino community to both enjoy its holiday season traditions and demonstrate them to the wider community.

Rebolledo León said, “I think it’s really nice to have something that brings the Latinx population together where it’s an evening that’s devoted to celebrating us, the Latinx population … It’s our tradition in an otherwise foreign town. I think it’s really nice.”

Like Olivas Romero, Rebolledo León emphasized the inclusiveness of the event and the hope that all Telluriders will go and have a chance to mingle with people they may see around town, but never have a chance to get to know.

“It’s an inclusive celebration,” she said. “I think that’s really important, especially with the current political climate, for the Latinx population to feel like they’re part of the larger community by having other members of the community there. We’ve had teachers come in the past, health care providers, so it just feels like ‘Yay! These are the people that I interact with. Thank you for taking the time for participate with us where it matters.’

“It brings unity to the community.”