EL CENTRO — After two years of silence, the celebration battle cry, “El Grito,” of Independence against Spain centuries ago was again heard Saturday night, September 14, at Bucklin Park.
When the emcee said, “Viva México!” the audience cheerfully responded with “Viva México!”
The collaboration between the city of El Centro and the Consulate of Mexico in Calexico (Consulado de México en Calexico) resulted in celebration of Mexican Independence at the annual El Grito de Independencia.
Hundreds of celebrants, grandparents and parents with their children, watched the program unfolding before their eyes on the stage that was on the Ross Avenue side of Bucklin Park. The audience watched the program eating kettle corn, tacos, burritos, sodas, and shaved ice to cool off from the humidity.
On the periphery of the park, vendors and organizations gave out promotional materials and engaged children in activities. The inflatable bouncers were quite popular with the kids. People watched from the hills surrounding the park. El Centro Police units were stationed at strategic locations. Security controlled both vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
The three-and-a-half hour celebration that started at 6 p.m., featured the Hijos Del Hombre Band, Ballet Folklorico House of Cultural Arts in El Centro, Ballet Folklorico Grupo “Ollin Yoliztli” and Mariachi “Los Viajeros.”
Both the American and Méxican national anthems were played.
"I am so excited to see hundreds — perhaps over a thousand — people here at Bucklin Park celebrating Mexican Independence Day with all of us,” said Mayor Pro-tem Efrain Silva.
According to Silva, el Grito is an annual celebration in this city. “We took a break for a couple of years but we are bringing el Grito back ... It is an entire celebration of who we are as a community.”
“I am really happy and very glad to thec ity of El Centro for organizing this event,” said Consul of Mexico in Calexico Tonatiuh Romero who attended the celebration with his staff. The collaboration included the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California.
“This is an example of what we can achieve if we work together,” said Romero.
As the program progressed, parents placed their children on their shoulders for a better view of the folklorico dancers and mariachi musicians. A few individuals brought their leashed pets. Over a dozen adults took their partners in front of the stage and danced to mariachi music.
From the left side of the stage, Folklorico Dance Group instructor Hilda Parra watched her students perform.
According to Parra, her students taking folklorico dance classes came from all over the Imperial Valley: Calexico, El Centro, Heber, Holtville, and Imperial. After her students performed five dance numbers, Parra said, “They did very good.”
“It is evident that the people were happy," said Tonatiuh Romero. "The people attended the ceremony; the people were eager and ready to celebrate and to share this Mexican side of them. Viva Mexico!”