OCEANSIDE — Thousands gathered at the Noche Mexicana celebration at the Civic Center Plaza Sept.15. The celebration honored Mexico’s Independence Day and local Hispanic culture.
A night of traditional Mexican dance performances, ballad singers and an Aztec blessing of the grounds led up to the Grito de Dolores that marks Mexico’s cry for independence at the start of the Mexican Revolution. As part of the local tradition, Mayor Jim Wood and Mexican Consul Adjunct Fernando Vargas Briones led the cry to mark Mexican Independence Day, which began Sept. 16.
Vendors set up in the plaza sold traditional Mexican foods, crafts and clothing.
There was a kids’ arts and crafts area in the community room courtyard. Boys and girls learned to make crepe paper flowers, yarn paintings and crepe paper collages.
The event shared Mexican traditions and cultural pride.
“For our children born here in the United States it shows them how Mexico celebrates Independence Day,” Pablo Jimenez, event chairman, said. “It teaches them that history.”
This year the holiday fell on a Thursday and the weekly Sunset Market was open in addition to the cultural festival. A bigger than usual crowd was expected with both events happening side by side in the downtown area.
The annual Noche Mexicana celebration has been held in Oceanside for about 12 years. It began as a small gathering of chiefly Latino residents who wanted to celebrate their culture. It quickly grew into a citywide celebration attracting thousands from Oceanside and surrounding areas.
Councilwoman Esther Sanchez was one of the original event organizers and continues to support the event.
“I grew up on stories of the Mexican Revolution and fighting for freedom and liberty,” Sanchez said. “My grandfather fought in the revolution.”
The first Noche Mexicana celebration was planned for 100 people and held inside the community room. An unexpected crowd of 250 showed up.
“It was standing room only,” Sanchez said. “It really seemed a lot of folks looked forward to having the event and celebration of Mexico’s rich culture, history and art.”
Seniors who had not been back to Mexico for over 20 years and children born in the U.S. sang the Mexican National Anthem together.
“It was phenomenal to see the event bring so much cultural pride and history,” Sanchez said. “Mexicans have fought many wars for their freedoms. It’s the spirit we all have here in Oceanside.”
Noche Mexicana continues to be organized on a grassroots level by local businesses and community volunteers.