Mecca kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month with a festival

Claudia Buccio

Karen Bravo and her son Sergio could not miss the opportunity of celebrating Mexico’s Independence Day. Young Sergio wore a green shirt and had a painted mustache on his face. His mom wore a Mexico soccer jersey and had a flag painted on her right cheek. Bravo said she wants her son to embrace his culture even if the family lives in California.

“He’s in a bilingual school, he has Mexican grandparents, Mexican parents, aunts and uncles,” Bravo said. “We travel to Mexico fairly often. Mexico is amazing.”

It was Sergio’s decision to dress up as a Mexican soldier, a costume his mom was happy he chose to wear. Plus, Bravo said Sergio loves to sing Mexico’s national anthem for fun.

Families across the Coachella Valley celebrated their Mexican and Latin American heritage in Mecca. September 15 marks the kick off of Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S. From September 15 to 18 countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Chile celebrate their independence from Spain.

This is the first time Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic Church in Mecca hosted a Mexican and Latin American Independence Day festival where attendees had a chance to savor their favorite Mexican dishes: tamales, deep fried quesadillas, tacos, just to mention a few.

Local bands performed and students from Desert Mirage High School’s Mexican folk dance group called Sangre Obrera translated as Worker’s Blood had a chance to show off some moves.

Maria Selene Castillo is a senior at this high school and the president of the dance team. She said she was proud “to represent my culture, to transfer this culture to future generations.”

A tradition she hopes to pass down to her children.

“One day I want to teach my children, and tell them even though we are in a foreign country, we can still show who we are, we can demonstrate our beauty, the beauty of our culture,” Castillo said.

Organizers of the festival raised funds to build classrooms to teach catechism classes to children at their parish. Father Francisco Valdovinos hopes Our Lady of Guadalupe keeps hosting this event in the following years.