By Nancy Mercado
A youth mariachi band was the first thing I saw and heard when I got off the 6 train at Lexington and 103rd Street to attend the grand opening of La Casa Azul Bookstore on Friday evening. A large crowd swelled at the entrance of East Harlem's new bookstore, watching the performers, drinking wine, and chatting.
[caption id="attachment_18340" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Mural-painted steps mariachi band played upon"][/caption]
Begun with the help of a fundraising campaign the store carries adult and children's books, in both Spanish and English, with an emphasis on local and Latino authors. There is also a nice selection of cards, stickers and other gift items, including rings made from telephone wire that I couldn't resist buying.
[caption id="attachment_18341" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Outdoor stage area"][/caption]
Inside the store, I made my way through the throngs of people shopping and chatting and posing for photos (using fun props provided by the store) and checked out the backyard area, which seems perfectly primed for performances and large groups.
On their website, La Casa Azul Bookstore says, "Our goal is to create a community center in East Harlem for both readers and writers, to create a place where reading, writing and creative expression is encouraged, and a place where ideas, curiosity and community spirit are celebrated." If the Grand Opening is any indication, they are well on their way to achieving that goal!
[caption id="attachment_18342" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Awesome takeaways for supporting your local bookstore"][/caption]
Check out all of the pictures I took on the online album.