Hatillo is located in northwest Puerto Rico, and measures 109 square kilometers (42 square miles). It is known as the “Capital of the Dairy Industry,” “Hatillo of our Hearts,” the “Land of the Green Fields,” the “Town with no Soup” and “The Ranchers” Town.” According to the 2000 census, there are 38,925hatillanos, living in ten wards: Aibonito, Bayaney, Buena Vista, Campo Alegre, Capáez, Carrizales,Corcovado, Hatillo, Hatillo Pueblo, and Naranjito. The annual patron saint’s festival is dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The town also celebrates the traditional Day of the Masks, on December 28th, the Day of the Holy Innocents.
Since its founding, Hatillo’s principal activity has been the cattle industry and the town is currently the world’s largest producer of milk per square mile, producing one third of the milk consumed in Puerto Rico. The town also has factories sponsored by the government Economic Development Administration, as well as the Plaza del Norte shopping mall, the fifth largest on the island. There is excellent fishing in its coastal waters, which are still used for this purpose.
Hatillo is located on the north coast of the island, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the north, the town of Utuado on the south, Arecibo on the east,Camuy on the west, and briefly bordered by Lares on the southwest. The town is part of the northern coastal plain in a zone designated as the northwest meseta where there is a belt of predominantly flat or slightly rolling land. The territory is divided into a northern and a southern belt, consisting of karst haystacks and sinkholes. Towards the center, the topography is irregular, extending towards the mountains of the island. Hatillo is bathed by the CamuyRiver.
In the early 18th century, Hatillo was part of the Arecibo ward known as Camuy or Hato Grande. Plans began to be drawn in 1823, and the town of Hatillo was founded on June 30, 1823, by Agustín Ruiz-Miranda. The first mayor was Francisco Martínez. Several explanations have been given for the name “Hatillo,” literally a small ranch. According to some sources, “Hatillo del Corazón de Riego” comes from thecorazón or custard-apple trees in the area. Other sources assert that the name comes from the fact that the town was created out of the Arecibo Hato Grande ward, an area dedicated to cattle ranching. This ward had already been further divided into Hato Arriba, Hato Abajo, and Hatillo. It is also speculated that the name of Hatillo is linked to the uprising initiated by Rafael de Riego against the absolutist government of King Ferdinand VII. As a tribute to this heroic effort the new town was baptized “Hatillo of Riego’s Heart.”
Hatillo grew rapidly. During the first two years the population grew from 910 to 2,663 residents in the settled areas of Carrizales, Capáez, Naranjito, Corcovado, Buena Vista (formerly Yeguadilla Occidental), Campo Alegre, (formerly Yeguadilla Oriental), Pajuil, Bayaney, Aibonito, and Barrio Pueblo. The town also had two sugar mills: Santa Rosa, with 150 cuerdas and Perseverancia, with 50 cuerdas.
During the 20th century, the Hatillo town limits continued to change. In 1902, the Puerto Rico legislature passed a law to consolidate several municipalities, and Hatillo was annexed to the town of Camuy. Three years later the Legislature returned sovereignty to the municipality. In 1910 the rural ward known as Pueblo was renamed Hatillo. In 1930, Yeguadilla Occidental and Yeguadilla Oriental wards became Buena Vista and Campo Alegre, respectively. By 1940, the census showed that Pajuil ward had disappeared, its territory having been divided among Buena Vista, Naranjito, Corcovado, and Campo Alegre. Seven years later, the Puerto Rico planning board drew up a map of the municipality of Hatillo and its wards, in which the urban area of the municipality was broadened to include part of the rural ward of Hatillo and Corcovados ward, and the final “s” was removed from the latter.
In spite of the many changes in Hatillo, much of its territory is still devoted to the cattle and dairy industries. As of 2002, there were 77 first class dairies, producing 91,901,918 quarts of milk. The sales value of these dairy products was $47.5 million, placing Hatillo at the head of the dairy industry. Other parts of the municipal lands are still devoted to agriculture.
Celebrating its heritage, on December 28 Hatillo holds its Day of Masks, one of the most popular traditional festivals in Puerto Rico. The custom was brought over from the Canary Islands, and is based on the massacre of the innocent children ordered by King Herod to prevent the arrival of the new king of Jerusalem. The masked figures represent the evil soldiers that persecuted the children. On the 27th of December there is a reenactment of the persecution of the children, and on the next day the masked figures take to the streets. Some hatillanos participate on foot, others are on horseback or use other transportation. The masked figures demand money and play pranks on their friends to get it. In their elaborate costumes, adorned with jingle bells, they begin to walk around the roads and paths very early in the morning. They visit different homes where they are offered food and drink, as well as money. At 4:00 p.m. on the 28th of December a festival is held at the city square. Long ago, the costumes were rudimentary and the carts were made of cardboard, mud or calabashes; the figures were dressed in rags and had a feminine shape. Some figures were painted with charcoal. Over the years the costumes have evolved in terms of the materials that are used as well as their cost.
The Hatillo flag consist of three stripes. The upper blue stripe represents the sea, since this is a coastal town on the Atlantic Ocean. The middle stripe is yellow, alluding to the material and artistic wealth of the town. The lower green stripe symbolizes the vegetation and extension of the town.
Coat of Arms
The coat of arms has four quarters, a three-turreted castle crowns the shield and the inscription below reads “Hatillo del Corazón”. The first quarter bears a custard apple tree laden with fruit. The second quarter has a chase of two golden cows representing cattle ranching. The tree and the cows are references to the founding of the town: Hatillo del Corazón. In the third quarter there are silver and blue waves, symbolizing the Hatillo beach. The Carmelite escutcheon is at the center, representing the patroness of the town: Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The three-turreted crown is a heraldic symbol of towns, cities, and municipalities.
Places of Interest
• Old Bayaney Sugar Mill
• Casa de Playa Country Inn
• Francisco Deida Méndez Coliseum
• Hatillo Caves
• Pagán Cave
• Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church
• Illustrious Citizens Park
• Del Carmen Walk
• Colonial Walk
• La Marina Beach
• Sardinera Beach
• Plaza del Norte Mall
• Ruins of Hacienda Santa Rosa
• José Antonio Monrouzeau Theater
• Santa Rosa Sugar Mill
Pablo J. Aguilar Galarza – Representative to the House of Representatives, District 11 (1937-1940). Mayor (1937).
Manuel Alcaide Cordero – Mayor (1945-1948).
Felipe Arana – Poet, musician, and writer. President of the Ibero-American Writers and Poets Circle in New York.
Lorenzo Coballes Gandía – Attorney and poet.
Oscar Colón Delgado – Renowned 20th century painter.
Dr. Guillermo Curbelo – Political figure; represented Hatillo at the founding of the Autonomist Party in Ponce in 1887.
Juan R. García Delgado – Delegate to the Constitutional Convention of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Member of the Republican Statehood Party.
Velda González – Actress and senator at large (1980-2004).
José P.H. Hernández – Musician, poet and pharmacist.
Luis H. Lacomba – Musician.
Fernando Ledesma – Member of the Chamber of Delegates and owner of the Bayaney sugar mill, now no longer extant.
José R. Millán and Ramón Millán – Brothers and owners of Hacienda Santa Rosa.
José Antonio Monrouzeau – Composer and musician.
Carmelo Rodríguez – Representative to the House, District 7 (1941-1944) and District 3 (1949-1960).
Agustín Ruiz Miranda – Town founder
Dr. Francisco M. Susoni – Physician and president of the House of Representatives (1945-1948).
Pedro Pablo Vargas – Poet.
• Patron saint festivals- July
• Celebration in honor of Miguelito Alcaide- October
• Cooperative Movement Traditional festival- October
• Mask Carnival-December
Text taken from enciclopediapr.org
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