Friday, June 19, 2009

A Colombian Tradition Comes to NJ

An article earlier this week in the Record of Northern NJ ("Stupidity on Wheels") mentioned that Bergen County police pulled over a multicolored bus after they saw debris being thrown out the windows of the bus, causing drivers of other cars to swerve. The bus, it turned out, was outfitted with a dance floor, deejay booth, and bar, and was full of high school students for Morristown partying after their prom. A Record column today by Mike Kelly explains the origin of this tradition:

The bus, owned by La Chiva Way, is a “chiva” – a term that describes rolling party buses that are common in rural Columbia. The firm’s website advertises itself as the “best party on wheels.”

Kelly also notes an immigration angle to this story:

A few hours later, the phone range at the home of Diana Mejia, a Morristown-based immigration advocate. The caller was one of the students on the bus – and here the story takes an intriguing turn.

Mejia says the student – and others who called later — were not so much concerned about the penalty for underage drinking, though Mejia adds that the students said they did not drink. Rather, Mejia said the students worried that the attention from the prom bus might lead police to discover that some of their relatives in Morristown were illegal immigrants.

Many of the students, were from Morristown’s burgeoning Latino community, said Mejia, who works the American Friends Service Committee and the Wind of the Spirit immigration group.

“Some of the kids may be documented,” said Mejia, using a term that refers to a person’s immigration status. “But their parents may not be. Remember, these are mixed families.”

The photo above, of disc jockey Ricardo Silva, left, of Jackson Heights, N.Y., and party bus promoter Jean Balcazar of College Point, N.Y., waiting to be called in municipal court in Hackensack, accompanied Mike Kelly's column online and is credited to Elizabeth Lara of the Record. The two men were smiling in the photo of them that accompanied Kelly's column in the dead tree edition of the paper today.

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