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A festive downtown Vallejo crowd celebrated a Fiestas Patrias Festival put on by the Solano County Aids Coalition to remember Mexican Independence Day.
No, it’s not Cinco de Mayo.
“I’m very happy to to be here today and celebrate our Independence Day,” Solano Aids Coalition Mario Saucedo said. “Many people wrongly think that Cinco de Mayo is our Independence Day but it’s celebrated on Sept. 16. But I’m very, very happy that many people came here today to celebrate our diversity.”
The event was part of National Hispanic Heritage Month, observed from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.
Fiestas Patrias is a patriotic holiday in Mexico, the anniversary of Mexican Independence from Spain. It is much like the American Fourth of July, celebrating not the day of independence, but the call for an independent nation. Sept. 16 commemorates Father Miguel Hidalgo, the parish priest of the small town of Dolores, who called for Mexicans to rise and overthrow Spanish rule. Grito de Dolores, the cry, is widely celebrated all over Mexico today.
Vallejo’s event featured a flag ceremony called Ceremony to Honor the Flag, with half-dozen kids marching with the Mexican Flag before presenting it to a few council members, including Mina Loera-Diaz, who then yelled out, “Viva Mexico, viva Mexico.” There were also speeches given by Saucedo, Loera-Diaz, Mayor Robert McConnell, Solano Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Leo Callejas and others. Entertainment was provided with a few Ballet Folklorico performances as well as Los Trios de Guanajuato and DJ Jaime Esparza and others.
Loera-Diaz gave a speech urging sensitivity to others, no matter the culture.
“Vallejo is diverse but we need to also show our diversity more,” Loera-Diaz said. “Not just in numbers and say this group has this many people and this group has this many people, but we need to participate in events and be proud of who we are. We need to support others that are different because in reality, we all want the same thing.
McConnell agreed, applauding many cultures for shining.
“You are what makes not only Vallejo great but America great,” McConnell said.
Saucedo said the event was also a way for people to get tested for COVID-19 as well as HIV.
Loera-Diaz, who was born in the Mexico town of Ojo Caliente, was the first woman of Latina descent to be on the council in over 100 years, an accomplishment she takes great pride in.
“There are always challenges to being the first one,” Loera-Diaz said. “There are always folks who don’t like it for whatever reason and I could never understand why people would feel threatened by having a certain group of people represented. It was the most amazing thing to tell my mother and father that I had won. My father cried and said as a farmer picking fruit I never thought my daughter would be in charge of a group of people of a city of over 120,000. So what I can say is that an immigrant little child like any child can dream. That’s why I advocate so much for kids because they are the future. Whether they are born here, raised here or born somewhere else I feel we owe it to them to have a better Vallejo.”
Loera-Diaz continually smiled as she took part in activities during the day.
“Participating in events like this is a combination of things,” the council member said. “When you see someone has a need and you can contribute to helping that person, that’s very important. Because so many times we see someone with a need we don’t help them. And when I say diversity I’m including those living on the streets or who don’t know the language and people who have been here and feel outcasted. So support is the key  and unity is the key and until that we can’t move forward.”
 
 
 
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