HEBER – Residents and civic leaders from Heber and surrounding communities attended Heber’s Annual Fall Festival Saturday evening at Tito Huerta Park. The theme stayed true to the community’s Hispanic heritage by highlighting the Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos.
The sounds of sirens and beating drums broke the silence through the sleepy residential streets as the sun set in the western sky and a harvest-like moon rose from the east and residents of Heber stepped out to welcome and celebrate with the Annual Fall Festival.
Rosa Maria Espinoza of Calexico was in attendance to see her grandson. “This is our first time coming out to this event, but it’s very nice because everyone out here seems to have something to do with this event," Espinoza said. "It seems very close-knit and a very family-orientated community event.”
A parade, 5K run and one-mile kid run, food and carnival booths, student talent shows, Mariachi Aurora de Calexico, and a dog costume contest were all part of the celebration.
The Heber Public Utility Department (HPUD) changed the event from a daytime festival to a nighttime event, and located it off the adjacent street into Tito Huerta Park, which is now equipped with bright lights.
Imperial County Supervisor Ray Castillo was on hand and pointed out how the weather helped make the event a success. “It’s really nice out here tonight," he said. "The weather really complimented this event here, which really helps grow this event and the community continues to look forward to this every year.”
Laura Fisher HPUD General Manager explained, “This event is getting bigger every year and the staff has a lot to do with that and making all of this come together. The community has really taken to this and they look forward to our Fall Fiesta.”
“This year’s theme is 'The Day of the Dead' and this year, to keep to our theme, we have a traditional altar with a memorial walk, and a Mariachi as an added feature to our Day of the Dead Theme,” said Fisher.
The festivities did take a moment for a more touching and somber tradition. On the adjacent baseball diamond, the Public Utilities Department set up a lighted pathway that began at a left field entrance and went around the outfield wall to the right field and eventually led to home plate where fairgoers found a colorful altar dedicated to loved ones who have passed away.
Arrangements of marigolds glowed under the candlelight as Mariachi Aurora de Calexico strummed traditional Mariachi standards for attendees as they left flowers at the altar throughout the evening.
Miguel Delgado of Heber said he was enjoying the night’s celebration with his family.
“We have been living in Heber for a few years, and we really like this community," Delgado said. "This is the first time that we come out to this event and we really like it and are having a good time tonight.”
“They did a good job of advertising the event this year," said Delgado. "We really enjoy the family atmosphere. We were looking forward to events like this within our community that celebrate our culture and community.”
This event, although small in comparison to other local parades and festivals, is made possible by the agencies and people of Heber, including the Public Utilities Department and the active senior community, Proyecto Heber (a community-based activism organization). The residents themselves participate in the parades and set up and operate booths.