The Villa Parke Community Center was filled with hundreds of adults and children celebrating Latin American independence on Tuesday.
Every year during the month of September, the center hosts Fiestas Patrias, a festival where people celebrate the independence of 18 countries starting with Mexico.
“Fiestas Patrias allows for the community and the city of Pasadena to bring together multiple generations, anywhere from toddlers, infants, adults, and seniors to celebrate the Latin American culture and heritage,” said Pasadena recreational service specialist Yurica Montes.
The event started with an “El Grito,” which is the calling for independence followed with the Mexican national anthem.
Each room was filled with colorful paper flowers, piñatas, and decorations relating to Latin culture. Kids had a variety of cultural games and entertainment to choose from such as creating stenciled posters, face painting, pin the tail on the donkey, and cultural games like loteria and el burro.
Every year, a royal court for Fiestas Patrias is held at Villa Parke. Each young girl in the cultural pageantry was asked questions about her heritage and the day concluded with three being crowned as princesses.
A live music performance by Ignacio Hernandez y su Mariachi had the audience wanting more, the young girls of Ballet Folklorico Nahuatzen danced on stage with their beautiful traditional dresses, and the Aztec dancers had amazing metallic costumes with large feather headpieces.
A Pasadena local, Yesenia Orozco, came to the event with her grandchildren, Christian, 1, and niece Angela, 5.
“This is my first time coming here with my grandchildren,” Orozco said, “It’s great to expose the younger generation to their cultural roots and watch them have fun. California was once Mexico, and the Mexican population is big here and Independence Day is important to us.”
The community center has held this event for over 20 years.
“I’ve been working here 15 years and we’ve been doing this every year,” said Edna Mejia, the community relations representative. “I’m pretty sure the people who worked before me did it too.”
The city of Pasadena’s Human Services and Recreation Department sponsored the free festival. It has been held specifically at this center because the population it serves is 80 percent Latino.