Latin American pride rang out through the streets of Santa Ana this weekend as the city celebrated the Fiestas Patrias festival honoring Mexican Independence Day.
After two years of restrictions due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the 42nd annual Fiestas Patrias festival marked a return to celebrations and, for many, brought back a feeling of community not felt in quite a while.
“It’s nice to see everyone back and dancing and celebrating after so long,” said Santa Ana resident Ines Blanco while looking out at the fairgrounds.
Roughly 60,000 people were estimated to have attended the Fiestas Patrias festival by the Santa Ana Police Department, according to Paul Eakins, spokesperson for Santa Ana, over email. Crowds of 25,000 on Saturday and 35,000 on Sunday came out to enjoy the weekend festivities, which included live music, food, cultural exhibitors, carnival rides, fair games, and more.
Mexican singer Beatriz Adriana took the main stage on Saturday to be met with enthusiastic cheers and waving flags. Mexican musician Raymix followed shortly behind to close out the day’s celebration with his performance.
Recognized each year on Sept. 16, the festival commemorates Mexico’s Independence Day, shared by a variety of Central American Nations including Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Costa Rica. The date marks when leader of the resistance, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, called upon Mexicans to rise up and fight against Spanish rule in his “El Grito de Dolores” or “the cry of Dolores” speech in 1810.
Each year on the eve of Independence Day, the President of Mexico re-enacts the cry from the balcony of the National Palace in Mexico City.
“I have never been to the downtown of Mexico City, but here in Santa Ana, when we come together and let out the ‘Grito’, we feel happy ” described Nicholas Cisneros, a long-time resident of Santa Ana, “ and we are proud.”
For many like Nicholas, the festival bears great significance in honoring such a considerable holiday. When interviewed, many like Michelle Cisneros, Nicholas’s daughter, and Dee Lopez, a Santa Ana resident, said that they come to celebrate every year.
The City of Santa Ana with the Consulate of Mexico hosted the annual El Grito Ceremony on the festival’s main stage on Saturday, which began at 7 pm. The ceremony recreated the traditional call to arms dating back to the eve of Mexican Independence Day in 1810.
El Grito was led by, Dr. Manuel Gálvez, Municipal President of Sahuayo, Michoacán.
Mayor of Santa Ana Vicente Sarmiento gave a speech during the ceremony along with Dr. Audrey Rivera Gómez, Head Consul of Mexico in Santa Ana. Councilmembers Jessie Lopez, Johnathan Ryan Hernandez, Thai Viet Phan, Nelida Mendoza, David Penaloza, and Mayor Pro Tem Phil Bacerra also spoke during the ceremony.
Mexican flags waved proudly amongst the crowd throughout the speeches, alongside flags from various other nations.
Audience members displayed enthusiasm as council members rallied cheers for Santa Ana and its rich Latin American heritage.