Somali Independence Day celebrated in Willmar

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.