Every year the Christmas Symposium starts off the same way. People slowly trickle in, you find a few familiar faces, get caught up in conversation and then next thing you know the room is full. Friday, December 13, 2013 at the Cristo Rey Church Hall, the 31st Annual Christmas Symposium took place led by long time community leaders John J. Castillo and Manuel Delgado Sr. With Fred Villareal keeping the music soft enough for conversation but yet loud enough to keep a good flow to the evening with Tejano and Christmas music mixed in. Plenty of familiar faces came out to this years version.The night was highlighted by Rosemary Lopez accepting the Capital Area Hispanics Community Representatives Award for Community Service given to her husband John Lopez who passed away earlier this year. John was well known and loved in the community as one who not only provided fresh pan dulce for many years at Lopez Bakery, but a willingness to always give back to the Hispanic community thru Cristo Rey Church, the Knights of Columbus or friends and family. Whether by his own hands, or by encouraging others to contribute, John definitely made his presence felt in many positive ways.The whole idea of this Christmas Symposium I do believe gets lost on those that do not attend. Its not a elegant bash where you get to rub elbows with Board of Education members or Ingham County Commissioners. Yes Guillermo Lopez and Bryan Crenshaw were there but that’s not the point. Mr. Castillo and Mr. Delgado whose connections together would outnumber the rest of our contact lists combined (okay, I exaggerate a touch, but not by much), only intended a night where people could celebrate life, friendships, the end of the year and of course Christmas. Nothing fancy. For fifteen bucks, you get some food (carne guisada was awesome!), conversation and music. For many of us, its a night to slow down and enjoy some great company. Thanks John and Manuel!