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Somali Independence Day celebrated in Willmar

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Carolyn Lange / Tribune Dressed in the colors of the Somali flag, women listen to music featured at a block party Saturday in downtown Willmar to celebrate Somali Independence Day.2 / 12
Carolyn Lange / Tribune Families gather Saturday at a block party in downtown Willmar for music, dancing and games to celebrate Somali Independence Day. 3 / 12
Carolyn Lange / Tribune As his brothers look on Saturday, Yasin Abdirashid, 10, right, gets a blue Somali flag painted on his face by Arfon Mahamud during a block party in downtown Willmar that was held to celebrate Somali Independence Day. 4 / 12
Carolyn Lange / Tribune Fadumo Osman, from left, Hamdiya Dayib and Gudono Ali dance Saturday at a block party in downtown Willmar to celebrate Somali Independence Day.5 / 12
Carolyn Lange / Tribune A block party, featuring music, dancing and games for children, was held Saturday in Willmar to celebrate Somali Independence Day.6 / 12
Carolyn Lange / Tribune Fadumo Osman and Hamdiya Dayib dance Saturday at a block party in downtown Willmar to celebrate Somali Independence Day.7 / 12
Carolyn Lange / Tribune Fadumo Osman, from left, Hamdiya Dayib and Gudono Ali dance Saturday at a block party in downtown Willmar to celebrate Somali Independence Day. 8 / 12
Carolyn Lange / Tribune As his brothers look on Saturday, Yasin Abdirashid, 10, right, gets a blue Somali flag painted on his face by Arfon Mahamud during a block party in downtown Willmar that was held to celebrate Somali Independence Day. 9 / 12
Carolyn Lange / Tribune Dressed in the colors of the Somali flag, women listen to music featured at a block party held Saturday in downtown Willmar held to celebrate Somali Independence Day. 10 / 12
Carolyn Lange / Tribune Families gathere Saturday at a block party in downtown Willmar for music, dancing and games to celebrate Somali Independence Day. 11 / 12
Carolyn Lange / Tribune Fardowsa Ibrahim, left, and Arfon Mahamud were the coordinators for a block party Saturday in downtown Willmar that was held to celebrate the 57th anniversary of Somali's independence from Italy and Britain. The day featured music, dancing and games for children.12 / 12

WILLMAR — Somali Independence Day was celebrated at a block party in downtown Willmar Saturday afternoon.

"It's a big day for us," said Arfon Mahamud, who along with Fardowsa Ibrahim, coordinated the event.

"Back home we usually celebrate using fireworks," Ibrahim said.

The block party featured music of popular St. Cloud artist Dalmar Yare, whose performance was funded by a state grant from the voter-approved Clear Water and Legacy Amendment.

Participants danced in the street to the music while children played games like "pin the tail on the camel" and had blue Somali flags painted on their cheeks. Stores owned by Somali business owners were also open.

The event was not only an opportunity for the community's Somali-Americans to celebrate their homeland's independence but to share some of their culture and traditions with their new hometown.

"I see a Willmar community coming together and enjoying the day," Mahamud said. "It's kind of breaking the walls."

The women said they hope to hold a similar Independence Day celebration next year.

Somali Independence Day marks the formation of the Somali Republic on July 1, 1960. The new country merged from two former territories: British Somaliland, a protectorate, and Italian Somaliland, a trusteeship created by the United Nations.

Vision 2040, Jennie-O Turkey Store, Kulmiye Store, Somali Star Restaurant, Amin Store and other Somali businesses provided financial support for the celebration.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750
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