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Day of Remembrance In Memory of the 87 Victims In The Happy Land Social Club Fire

“Our thoughts and prayers are for the families of the 87 people who perished 30 years ago at the Happy Land social club fire on March 25, 1990. 🙏🏾😇🌹

As we continue our new lives under PAUSE (“Policies Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone”) in New York State, due to the COVID-19 crisis, Bronx Community Board 6 announced the cancellation of the Happy Land Mass and Memorial on Wednesday, March 25th.

March 25th marks the 30th Anniversary of the Happy Land Social Club Fire, on March 25, 1990 and the third significant milestone within Garifuna-American Heritage Month in New York. Its significant because it’s the only event within the month, that occurred in New York City, home to the largest Garifuna Community outside of Central America!

The Happy Land Social Club Fire, on March 25, 1990, was an arson fire that killed 87 people trapped in an unlicensed social club in the Bronx. Most of the victims were young Hondurans celebrating, largely drawn from members of the local Garifuna American community. It was through the Happy Land Social Fire that New York City discovered the Garifuna People! As expressed by the late Dominican activity Astin Jacobo:

“Today, Spanish echoes through hallways and on side streets. No one plays stickball anymore, but the soccer games live on, this time among the Honduran immigrants who have carved out a niche here in recent years. And as with other groups, it took a tragedy before the rest of the city learned they even existed. In the Hondurans’ case, it was the Happy Land fire. “We felt powerless when that happened. Until a tragedy happens, nobody knows the importance of a community.” Astin Jacobo[1]

As we reflect on the greatest tragedy for the Garifuna Community in the United States and as we pay tribute to the 87 victims of the Happy Land Social Club Fire; in the midst of Vice President Mike Pence making it clear that “New York City is now the nation’s epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis;” we conclude with the words eternally chiseled in the memorial at the intersection of Southern Boulevard and East Tremont Avenue, appropriately co-named “Ochenta Y Siete Boulevard”:

“In Memory of the 87 men and women who lost their lives in the Happy Land Social Club fire at 1859 Southern Boulevard, west of this site on March 25, 1990. Dedicated 1995

May they all be happy in eternity. Although we cannot see them. Forever they will be a beautiful part of our hearts’ memory.”

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