For many, celebrating Fiestas Patrias in Santa Ana last weekend meant not letting culture and traditions fade away.

Thousands shouted Viva Mexico and danced to live music while also enjoying local cuisine and celebrating Mexican and Central Independence Day from Spain.  

One thing that was evident from the crowd was that many were proud of their roots and wanted to maintain them – something that Santa Ana city council members celebrated earlier this week at their regular public meeting.

“It is important to celebrate them so that the traditions we have had for many years, which our ancestors have cultivated, continue to be cultivated in the new generations. And that they don’t die out, that the traditions continue,” said Gabriela Rivera, 43, of Santa Ana.

“I think it’s important to celebrate because it brings the community together. It allows our children to continue our cultures and to take pride into who we really are in this community” said Maria Flores, 26, during an interview. 

Even among all the music, cheers, and rides with screaming riders, there were moments of reflection for some Santa Ana students while they interviewed and took photos of the event. 

Here are some of their reflections and photos:

A vendor sets up her stand at Fiestas Patrias in Santa Ana. Credit: JOSE RODRIGUEZ, Voice of OC

“When I was at the event I felt that most of the people there really appreciated that they were being celebrated,” said Jose Rodriguez. 

“This was such a good feeling because coming from an immigrant family I love seeing my family happy and enjoy the festival that celebrates our heritage. When I got there at 7p.m. it was lively. There were so many people enjoying the music, it was great and so many people wanted to sing and dance, shared Rodriguez.

“People were lining up in big lines to buy tickets to get on rides like the ferris wheel and some carnival games to win prizes like live fish. I saw a little kid trying to make five rings in five bottles with his happy mother smiling as she observed that her kid was happy.”

Young women dance through the Fiestas Patrias in Downtown Santa Ana on Sept, 17 2023. Credit: ABIGAIL BUSTOS-JIMENEZ, Voice of OC

“My experience at the festival in Downtown Santa Ana for Mexican Independence Day was a day that I realized how beautiful my culture and other cultures are,” said Santa Ana Circulos student Abigail Bustos-Jimenez

“I say this because my culture has been around me for long before I ever existed, and I never really noticed or bothered to admire my culture. This festival brought so many smiles, including me. 

To know my people celebrate in such an interesting and unique way, we have people dancing around with lots of colored clothing and big masks, riding horses, children dancing around with masks as well, elders that move faster than younger people with gorgeous colorful dresses. My culture is unique because it brings our community together with joy.”

“When it was time for “El Grito” all the people gathered up in front of the stage. As we all heard and pledged to the national anthem of Mexico,” said Abigail Bustos-Jimenez.

Chinelo dancers dance through the Fiestas Patrias Parade in Downtown Santa Ana on Sept. 17, 2023. Credit : DESTINY GONZALEZ, Voice Of OC
Mexican performer slashes a whip through the 43rd Annual Fiestas Patrias in Downtown Santa Ana on Sunday Sept. 17, 2023. Credit: EVELYN MUNIZ MORFIN, Voice of OC

“One takeaway for me were the colorful and detailed costumes some of them had,” said Evelyn Muniz Morfin.

“The parade helped show some of the Mexican state’s unique traditional costumes and clothing they have in each of their own celebrations. The masks worn were also really cool, each having their own special meaning behind them. Overall, I think the parade helped me connect more to my own culture and enjoy festivities that I might not have been able to celebrate if I had lived in another place” shared Morfin.

People place a pin to show where they are from on a community board at the 43rd Annual Fiestas Patrias on Sept. 17, 2023 in Downtown Santa Ana. Credit: EVELYN MUNIZ MORFIN, Voice of OC
People represent the state of Guerrero during Fiestas Patrias in Santa Ana on Sept. 17, 2023 Credit : ABIGAIL BUSTOS- JIMENEZ & DESTINY GONZALEZ, Voice of OC
Santa Ana Fiestas Patrias in Santa Ana on Sept. 17, 2023. Credit: YENNY MEDINA, Voice of OC
People wait in line for Mardi Gras maze during the Santa Ana Fiestas Patrias on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. credit: BRIANA RENDON, Voice of OC
A collage shows different aspects of Mexican culture at Santa Ana Fiestas Patrias on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. Credit: BRIANA RENDON, Voice of OC
A birds eye view of Fiestas Patrias in Downtown Santa Ana on Sunday, Sept, 17, 2023. Credit KEVEN NOVAS, Voice of OC.

Students from Santa Ana’s Círculos High School’s Project Based Learning II Class contributed to this story.


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