Lucia Lamberson thought she was attending a Zumba fundraising event at the Fort Ritchie Community Center; however, her friends had secretly planned a surprise party in her honor. Lamberson officially became an American on Monday, April 12, 2021, in Philadelphia.

Friends she had made through exercise classes at the community center were so impressed with her, they decided they wanted to publicly acknowledge the achievement.

The original fundraising idea was actually Lamberson’s, as she and others challenged Fort Ritchie Community Center Director Buck Browning to take a Zumba class. Browning eventually agreed to try the Latin-themed dance exercise class after Lamberson and her friends said they would raise $1,000 if he would agree to the challenge. The challenge evolved into community center members bringing in various items that Browning would wear during the class if the goal were met. Items included fairy wings, a tutu, a beard and wig, and Mardi Gras beads.

The community raised close to $1,100 for the event, with funds being used to help provide the eight-week summer camp for local children. On Wednesday, April 14, Lamberson walked into the community center expecting to take the Zumba class with Browning and the other usual participants. Upon entering the gymnasium Lamberson said she saw a banner that read “Congratulations,” but it didn’t register that the banner was for her.

Around 40 people were present, as Browning, wearing the wig, beard, beads, tutu, and other items, thanked the crowd for raising the funds for summer camp. He then surprised Lamberson by asking her to come forward. An American flag and lapel pin, donated by Ed and Anne Orndorff on behalf of the community center, were presented to Lamberson. An American-themed red, white, and blue cake (and cupcakes) were enjoyed following the Zumba class.

Lamberson lives with her husband Jason and two dogs in Carrol Valley, Pennsylvania. She moved to the United States from Venezuela.

Please visit for more information on the Fort Ritchie Community Center and its programs and activities. Community Center Director Buck Browning, wearing a wig, beard, beads, tutu, and other items, plus 40 other people, surprise Lucia Lamberson with a party to celebrate her officially becoming an American citizen on April 12, 2021.

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