NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Hispanic Heritage Month kicked off Tuesday, and while COVID-19 forced the postponement of local celebrations, organizers are redirecting their energy to an equally important mission of representation.

As CBS2’s Christina Fan reported, you can feel the pride of the city’s 2.4 million Latinos every year from Fifth Avenue to Corona, Queens.

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Jose Tejada, who organizes the annual Carnaval de la Cultura Latino said the festivities are a time of unity.

“We wanted to have an event where we celebrate not just one country but we celebrate all the Hispanic Latin American countries,” he told Fan.

Although the pandemic canceled most large-scale celebrations this year, event organizers are making sure their heritage isn’t lost.

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In Queens, the Dominico American Society is continuing to partner with after school programs, making sure children learn about Latino culture and history in this country.

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“As I travel different parts of the United States, I see Latinos who are thriving in different sectors and then again contributing in a positive way to the economy,” said Tejada.

Hispanic Heritage Week was first established by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968 and later expanded to a month-long event. It begins Sept. 15 — the date several Latin American countries declared independence from Spain.

This year, in lieu of parades, there is a different type of activism.

“People don’t know that for every person that signs the census application, money comes into the city,” Julio Hernandez, of the Dominico American Society, told Fan.

Community activists say taking the time to fill out the 2020 census is the best way to showcase your pride and heritage with direct implications for years to come.

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