The Delray Beach Tennis Center will be transformed to an epic melting pot on Saturday, May 17 for “La Siren”, a celebration of African and Caribbean culture in South Florida. The event will take place at 201 W. Atlantic Ave. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is the culmination of a vision to bring the people of South Florida together, building bridges in the community to observe the city’s cultural richness through Afro-Caribbean art, dance, music and food. The event has been organized by Joe Bernadel, co-founder for the Toussaint L’Ouverture High School for Arts & Social Justice in Delray Beach, a private charter high school that opened in August 2001, serving Palm Beach County students of diverse backgrounds. To date, Bernadel is the first person of Haitian ancestry to have opened a public school in the United States. To celebrate Haitian culture, on October 2002 the school launched the Haiti Museum of Arts & Culture, which honors the culture of the Haitian Diaspora and serves as a repository of the oral traditions of the Haitian people in Delray Beach and surrounding communities. According to Bernadel, the festival is a chance to bring the community together and celebrate the city’s diversity. “We’re offering the entire family a wonderful day filled with food, great music, great performances and the chance to experience the richness of the cultural fabric that makes up our community,” said Bernadel. Vendors and exhibitors will sell and display arts and crafts, jewelry, electronics, literature and food from the region. In addition, there will be live concerts, a children’s play area, and many more fun and exciting activities. Among the attractions will be a mermaid headdress contest, where local organizations and schools will vie for a $500 prize for making a Caribbean-inspired ceremonial headdress. Organizers plan for the contest to serve as a catalyst for highlighting artistic expression and teaching about multi-cultural strengths and differences for all of Palm Beach County. “We are hoping people will come out and experience the spectrum of diversity as represented by our many vendors, and of course, the great performers along with many other supporting groups of talented individuals participating in this year’s festival,” said Bernadel. For more information, or to learn how to enter the contest, visit www.afrocaribbeanfest.com, or call 561-496-2457. About Major Joseph M. Bernadel Joseph Bernadel was born in Haiti, and emigrated to the United States in 1975. Soon after he joined the United States Army, retiring as a Major from the U.S. Military in 1997, after 22 years of worldwide sensitive military assignments including positions as Attache Militaire in Haiti and Mozambique. He is fluent in five languages, including Creole, English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. He is a national trainer for the Anti-Defamation League of Palm Beach County, and was instrumental in having May declared Haitian Heritage Month as proclaimed by the Delray Beach City Council. Major Bernadel holds the Bachelor of Science in Administration from the University of Hawaii, and has completed his graduate studies at the University of Florida in Latin American and Caribbean Affairs. His current professional priorities are to build institutions honoring the presence and contributions of people of color in South Florida and to enhance their welfare through education, political advocacy, and economic opportunities.