Sanford PD sponsoring first-ever Hispanic festival

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SANFORD, Fla. —

The Sanford Police Department is sponsoring its first-ever event focused on the Hispanic community.

It's no secret racial tension in Sanford peaked after the Trayvon Martin shooting, but organizers said they hope the new event will help residents move forward.

For 10 years, Yedic Horonato has run his family's Spanish supermarket off U.S. 17-92.

Most of his customers are regulars, but he said he wouldn't mind seeing more unfamiliar faces.

"I think it's a going to be a good idea. We can participate. That's important of us. And, we can meet more people in the city," said Horonato.

The police department wants to bridge the gap with the Latino community.

It's hoping to get $22,000 from the city's community redevelopment fund to host a Latin festival next September.

According to documents, it wants to "Bring first time visitors and previous visitors and guests to Sanford who may have been reluctant to visit our beautiful city due to negative, inaccurate and unflattering media coverage recently."

"I hope that it does bridge the gap and bring the community and races together so Sanford can move forward," said Sanford resident Ron Verzaro.

The department said it expects 15,000 people to show up to the festival, which will be at Fort Mellon Park.

Verzaro has been to similar events in other places, and said it's about time his city celebrated his culture.

"I'm glad that we're catching on," said Verzaro.

The festival is scheduled for September 2014.