More than 40,000 people are expected in this Santa Ana this weekend to celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day, which all of Central America also shares, making it also Independence Day for the nations of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
On Thursday, September 15, a kick-off celebration took place in the historic downtown of Santa Ana in the Plaza Calle Cuatro hosted by the Consulate of Mexico, where hundreds attended, according to Gabriel Juarez Alvarado spokesperson for the consulate.
El Grito was led by Dr. Audrey Rivera Gómez, Head Consul of Mexico in Santa Ana.
“This celebration commemorates one of the most relevant civic events of our story as an independent nation,” said Rivera Gomez over a phone interview.
“Santa Ana is 80 percent Latino and from those 80 percent, the majority are from Mexico. Que Viva Mexico! Si?” said Mayor Sarmiento, who is from Bolivia, to a cheering crowd.
For an hour, the Calle Cuatro Plaza was turned into a place of nostalgia for many immigrants, who cannot celebrate in Mexico.
“There is nostalgia and longing to go back to Mexico from many of the people I speak to, but many can leave but not come back,” said Alvarado, “Mexicanos, I know you are here, working, and sending money to your family, I want you to feel ‘El Grito’ for Mexico because I know you have Mexico in your heart.”
The event was a free community event where many Latino organizations, private and non-profits, and local officials gathered to celebrate Mexican Independence day. Organizations and community members, such as Banda de Guerra Osos de Californa, United Across Borders Foundation and Northgate Market, and others. Many of the participants were recognized by local Congressman Lou Correa, D-Anaheim, who also represents Santa Ana and by the city of Santa Ana for their participation. The mayor of Santa Ana Mayor Sarmiento, OC Board Supervisor Katrina Foley, and Santa Ana Councilwoman Jessie Lopez was in attendance.
The ceremony was filled with traditional songs and dances of Mexico in traditional clothing.
Not too far from the plaza, another Independence Day commemoration took over Santa Ana’s skyline.
The city’s downtown iconic water tower was lit up by city officials in blue to celebrate the Central American countries that also celebrate their independence on September 15.
The tower which in past years has been of Mexican flag colors was blue.
“Last night, we illuminated the water tower blue and white in honor of the five Central American countries who celebrate their Independence Day today, September 15. Our City is proud to share such a diverse, Hispanic culture. The tower will be illuminated through tonight. ¡Que vivan El Salvador , Guatemala , Honduras , Nicaragua , y Costa Rica !” read the post from the City of Santa Ana’s official Facebook.
The gesture was put in place to celebrate all Latino immigrant families that call Santa Ana home, as suggested by Councilmember Jessie Lopez.
“It’s notable that the request to light it came from Councilmember Jessie Lopez, who is Salvadoran-American. It’s important to highlight that Santa Ana is home to immigrant families from Central America and other parts of Latin America, not just Mexico,” said Paul Eakins, spokesperson for Santa Ana, over email.
“You know, I think personally, for me, it’s like a feel-good moment to see all of the Salvadorians in the city of Santa Ana have, you know, a moment in time to see their home, their homeland color reflected, on the water tower, because there’s a population of us here that I think has not been necessarily acknowledged, or in the past celebrated,” said Lopez.
Lopez says this is the first time the water tower has been blue during this time, normally it is the color of the Mexican flag.
Voice of OC reached out to the city of Santa Ana asking if this was the first time the water tower was lit up blue. “I don’t recall doing it in the almost 3 years I’ve been with the City,” said Eakins.
“I brought it up to staff, it was part of an educational process as well for everyone to let them know, part of, you know, Hispanic or Latino, next, whatever you want to call it Heritage Month, is about, you know, Latin America, in general, it from Chile to Mexico to Central America, that celebrates their independence from Spain.”
This weekend, Santa Ana is expecting 40,000 people to visit Fiestas Patrias. The annual celebration normally hosts a parade, but for the past 2 years it has been scaled down due to the pandemic, however this year it will not be held due to the ongoing construction in the area.
The Fiestas Patrias layout for the 17 and 18 in downtown Santa Ana and set times can be found here.
“Due to the ongoing construction in the downtown area and on Main Street (where the parade normally takes place), additional street closures would have been needed to have the parade this year. We did not want to further impact local businesses and neighborhoods that are already affected by the construction closures. We’re hopeful that we can bring the parade back next year,” said Eakins.
Despite street closure, and earlier pandemic-related restrictions the celebrations continue.
“The central message here is we wanted to bring a piece of Mexico here so they don’t forget their roots, it is to bring a memory of Mexico, its independence, and not forget to be proud of their country,” says Alvarado.
Here is how Mexico’s Consul General began the celebrations this week in Santa Ana.