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November is a rockin’ month in Watsonville. We kicked it off with a fantastic remembrance event at the Downtown Plaza celebrating our ancestors who have passed. Mexican culture traditionally honors the Dia de los Muertos on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 and we certainly enjoyed seeing the beautiful Marigold orange flowers, the altars and ofrendas (offerings) at our local cemeteries and at our community celebration at the Plaza. Watsonville was blooming with color.
From honoring our past, our city moved right into crafting our future. This last week, our town had the chance to participate in our democracy. Residents came out to vote and expressed their voices by voting. We’ll be waiting a few weeks to find out some race results, and we’ll be given the final certified results from the county clerk on Dec. 8. It’s been a nail-biting, nerve-wracking, exhausting and exciting process and I want to thank everyone who came out and voted.
That brings me right to the highlight of this month: our veterans. Members of the military have protected our freedom and have defended our country paying the ultimate sacrifice. I want to give my special thanks to our veterans and those residents who have served our country. I invite all to join me to thank those who have served our great country.
More than a dozen city of Watsonville employees served our country before serving our community. They now hold various positions within the city: Luz Martinez, administrative analyst for the Watsonville Public Library U.S. Navy, Master at Arms; Ruben Vargas, senior code enforcement officer, Community Development Department, U.S. Navy DK/3 Petty Officer Third Class; Robert Larsen, engineer for the Watsonville Fire Department, U.S. Army, radio operator; Juan Trujillo, sergeant with the Watsonville Police Department, U.S. Marine Corps, Sergeant/ E-5; Corey Johnston, officer with the Watsonville Police Department, U.S. Army, sergeant/ E-5; Rayvon Williams, municipal airport director, U.S. Marine Corps, 1st lieutenant; Trevor Ihlen, officer with the Watsonville Police Department, U.S. Marine Corps, Corporal/E-4; Gustavo Zamora, officer with the Watsonville Police Department, U.S. Marine Corps, sergeant/ E-5, Brian Post, Senior construction inspector, Watsonville Public Works, U.S. Army, sergeant 1st class; Octavio Barocio, corporal with the Watsonville Police Department, U.S. Marine Corps, sergeant/ E-5 ; Angel Hernandez, Officer with the Watsonville Police Department, Army National Reserve, Specialist /E-4; John Georges, IT analyst II, U.S. Army, satellite network controller; Armando Uribe, Officer with the Watsonville Police Department, U.S. Army, specialist/ E-4; Jason Larson, Firefighter with the Watsonville Fire Department, U.S. Navy, Airman.
This past Friday, Watsonville celebrated with a veterans march on Main Street to Watsonville High School and culminated with a program at the Henry J. Mello Center and a luncheon at the Watsonville High School cafeteria hosted for the veterans, their families, friends and the general public by Applebees and  the Pajaro Valley Unified School District. Mayor’s proclamations were given to Barbara Adamsky, Felipe Hernandez, Doreen Soto and Harry Wiggins for their service to our country and our community.
November is also a month that is very special to me and many other residents of our city who are of Native American heritage. November is the month in which América stops to honor and celebrate our rich histories, cultures and important contributions of our country’s natives. I honor my great-grandfather Gil Refugio Cano and my great grandmother, Juana Maria Tomasa Alvarado Cano who were both Amah-Mutsun.
Join us in November in celebrating Native American Heritage Month. The proclamation will be accepted by Ohlone Tribal Elder, Patrick Orozco and other members of the Ohlone tribe. The main Watsonville Public Library lobby will have books, booklists and a tribal map that highlights native tribes here in the Central Coast and in the Bay Area. For information on Native American Heritage, visit Watsonville Librarian Alicia Martinez’s November 2022 Newsletter at  cityofwatsonville.org/1585/Library-Newsletter.
Tuesday, students from Watsonville and Pajaro Valley high schools will be shadowing myself, City Manager Rene Mendez and Councilmember Eduardo Montesino and Councilmember Vanessa Quiroz-Carter, and for the first time the students will get to participate in our City Council meeting. We’re excited and honored to have Sabrina Hernandez, Janie Gutierrez, Daisy Delgado and Izabella Brandon join us on the dais. I know this will be a wonderfully educational experience for us all and we hope you join us.
Thanksgiving will soon be upon us and we will celebrate with family and friends and give thanks. During this Thanksgiving season, a heartfelt thanks to our city employees and our city partners for a year of hard work, service and progress. Thank you also to the people of Watsonville for their engagement, participation, friendship and sense of community during this past year.  We are always at our strongest when we work together.
Exciting things are happening at the Parks and Community Services Department which is getting the city of Watsonville ready to celebrate the holiday season.
At 5 p.m. Friday, we’d like to invite the community to join us for our annual traditional Christmas tree lighting at the city plaza. It’s going to be a beautiful sparkling winter wonderland that will lift the hearts of young and old. Our busy city elves are actively decorating and installing our lights for the enjoyment of all our residents.
I want to make sure our young residents don’t miss the tour that Santa Claus will take through our neighborhoods on Dec. 14-16. Santa’s route will soon be available on our city of Watsonville website. Ho! Ho! Ho!
I look forward to seeing you out and around during this holiday season. Don’t forget to shop local and support our local businesses.
See you around town, Watsonville.
Ari Parker is the mayor of Watsonville.
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