Monday, September 15, 2008

Fiestas Patrias in our own backyard

In case you didn't know, we just had a weekend jam-packed with Hispanic fiestas. Fiestas Patrias is that time of year when Latinos celebrate the independence their homeland gained, and most Latin American countries' independence were won in the late summer months. Mexico won theirs September 16, which launches Hispanic Heritage Month (clearly only celebrated here in the U.S. of A.) which isn't a month per se, but a month-long period from September 15 - October 15.

So right here in the Seattle area we're all over Fiestas Patrias, with celebrations all weekend long at the Seattle Center, a community parade in South Park, an entire day of Puyallup Fair dedicated to Latinos, and even a Bellevue celebration at Crossroads Mall.

We watched the Saturday parade in South Park, and were amazed to see the turnout--especially among parade participants: The Latino Riders (a motorcyclin' group), Cascade Middle School Marching Band, some lowriders with the most unbelievable hydraulics, beautiful, dancing horses with their riders in traditional Mexican dress, lots and lots of participation from the various SeaMar groups in Washington state (SeaMar puts on the Fiestas Patrias parade), and even more cheap candy thrown to the bystanders that I kept picking up. See some of the photos I took to get the flavor.

At the end of the parade, there was food and aguas frescas for sale, to benefit SeaMar. The horchata rocked! Jorge Madrazo of SeaMar took the stage and we also heard from Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, Congressman Jim McDermott, Senator Margarita Prentice, Rep. Bob Hasegawa, and others. Then those beautiful horses showed off more of their fancy footwork!

On Sunday, I stopped by the Fiestas Patrias celebration at the Seattle Center. There were several sponsor booths (including three banks vying for business from local Latinos!) and a good selection of south-of-the-border foods. The sun was out and people were enjoying some great live music in the Fisher Pavilion, everything from mariachi to bacchata. It was a decent turnout.

The interesting thing about this celebration is that it served as an announcement to Seattle by the old Radio Sol--the new El Rey--of some changes made just a week or so ago. OK, so the name changed. The music's not supposed to. The DJs we knew and loved are off the air. A new live and local DJ just moved up from Bakersfield, CA to take the 10-3 weekday spot, and she's starting the week of 9/22. So this new DJ, Marimar Flores, was up on stage between sets, getting the crowd excited about stuff with interactive contests that got people out of their seats. She recognizes that she's not there to "replace" longtime DJ Jaime Mendez, but in any case people seemed to respond to her pretty well. We'll see how her show goes, and what happens to listenership at the station, which was finally on par with La GranD the last several months.

If anyone attended the Puyallup Fair celebration on Sunday or the Bellevue Crossroads event, or other related events, feel free to add your feedback. Thanks for your participation!

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