fave thing

My Favorite Pittsburgh Thing To Do With Kids: Melanie Marie Boyer of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Melanie Marie Boyer and her husband head an international family. Melanie is a Colombian/American citizen, born and raised in Pittsburgh. Joel, an artist and illustrator, was born and raised in Canada.

As director of development at the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Melanie’s heritage and love of family play a big part in her favorite Pittsburgh thing to do with kids.

“We love to attend the Latin American Cultural Union Festival,” says Melanie, mom to Dawson, 7, and 1-year-old Brody.  “This is a community event that celebrates Latinx cultures from around the world, right here in Pittsburgh. There is something for everyone at this event. Dawson especially enjoys dancing with the performances on the main stage.”

Between face painting, whacking pinatas and making crafts, they love browsing through the handmade toys and artisan products.

“After working up a good appetite singing, dancing and chatting, we descend on the food vendor area,” she says. “Here, delicious dishes from many countries and Hispanic cultures are featured.”

As soon as the April festival ends, the Gibsonia family begins counting down the days until the next Latin American Caribbean Festival, which is free and open to the public. (Other fun Hispanic happenings include the Pittsburgh Taco Fest on June 1 at Highmark Stadium and the Latino Picnic on Sept. 29 in Schenley Park.)

“This event is very special to us because we get to celebrate our Hispanic heritage and have a whole day of fun from morning until night,” Melanie says. “Family is the foundation of everything in our lives. Our family is our primary community and the first community that our children know. It is the example children use when learning to interact with the world and develop their values and goals and teach them about their heritage.”

She counts herself fortunate to have a supportive and active family at hand. On at least a weekly basis, for example,  Dawson and Brody spend time with their Pappy, Abue and Tio Sean. Even their Tia Hannah, who lives in Colombia, calls the boys to video chat several times a week.

“As a mom, I finally know what is meant by the phrase ‘it takes a village,’ ” Melanie says. “Life can be chaotic, stressful and even downright hard, but with a great family by your side, you can truly accomplish anything.”