OCEANSIDE — A crowd of an estimated 1,000 people gathered to celebrate Mexico’s Independence at the annual Noche Mexicana celebration at Civic Center Plaza on Sept. 15.
The Civic Center courtyard was filled with food carts and vendor booths selling Mexican and Cuban food, traditional wrestling masks, inflatable toys and local services.
The annual Noche Mexicana has been held for about eight years.
“The library is really excited about participating again this year,” Monica Chapa Domercq, Oceanside Public Library principle librarian, said.
Entertainment was nonstop on a stage area set up on the corner of Mission Avenue and Coast Highway 101. Dance troops and singers performed traditional dance and songs from the states of Jalisco, Veracruz, Nayarit, Michoacan and Pueblo from 4 to 8 p.m.
There were special guest performances by popular Mexican singer Sonora Santanera and dance troop Grupo Nayare de Tepic Nayarit Mexico. The dance troop teamed up with the award-wining Grupo Tapatio de Oceanside troop to perform traditional Mexican dances.
Grupo Tapatio de Oceanside has performed at Noche Mexicana almost every year it has been held. Over the years the troop has become more acclaimed and now performs throughout California.
Dancers ages 7 to 13 perform in the children’s dance troop. Dancers age 13 and up perform and compete throughout the state.
“It’s part of our culture,” Luis Oceguera, director of Tapatio de Oceanside, said. “Especially indigenous dances, people have been dancing those dances for more than 200 years.”
The annual Noche Mexicana celebration began as a way for a small group of residents to celebrate and share their Mexican culture. It quickly grew into an annual event celebrated by 1,000.
“The celebration means a lot,” Oceguera said. “We’re far from our country, but it’s part of our culture. It means a lot to participate in this kind of event.”
Longtime event organizer Yolanda Iniguez said the focus of this year’s event is to build community spirit.
“It’s to remind us as community we need to work together,” Iniguez said. “Keeping Oceanside a clean, safe and beautiful city.”
A special dance performance by Grupo Nayare de Tepic Nayarit Mexico and Tapatio de Oceanside dancers was held at El Camino High School on Sept. 16.