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Community invited to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe on Sunday in downtown Rome

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Lady of Guadalupe Parade 2015

Maria Bucio performs traditional folk dances during the parade down Broad Street on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015. (Kristina Wilder / RN-T.com)

A celebration of a centuries-old legend will make its way down Broad Street on Sunday, filled with dancers, music and folklore.

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe will be celebrated Sunday, with a procession from St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 911 Broad St., to The Forum.

The festival commemorates the legend of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to a peasant farmer named Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill outside of Mexico City in 1531.

The procession will feature horses, dancers, native costumes and a float and will begin at 12:30 p.m. and move from the church, down Broad Street and into The Forum where a bilingual Mass will be held at 1:15 p.m.

The Mass will include a dramatic presentation of the apparition. A meal of Latin food will be served with a requested donation of $8 per person. Also, traditional dancing will be performed.

All of the events are open to the public.

“It is a unique event,” explained Rosie Cordero, secretary at St. Mary’s. “We invite everyone to attend. This celebration has grown every year.”

Father Rafael Carballo, who will perform the Mass, said the event calls people from all over the region to celebrate.

“While initially a Mexican event, the festival has grown throughout the years, in part with Hispanic immigration to our country and also due to increasing awareness that Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Patroness of the Americas — North, South, and Central” said Deacon Stuart Neslin, parish administrator of St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

“The Festival is a multi-generational event, giving local Hispanics an opportunity to celebrate their heritage and also to invite their neighbors to the festival as an opportunity to thank the local community for their interest and support,” he added.