In every city that I've lived, there have been some type of celebrations for the 16th of September, the commemoration of "El Grito" of Father Hidalgo in Mexico in 1810.
This launched the Mexican revolution against Spain. It also spurred other independence movements throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The celebrations are often organized by the Mexican Consulates. Parades are usually organized by community groups to celebrate Mexican Independence, but also to honor and recognize organizations here in the U.S.
Houston has its celebrations too. Saturday morning I went to the Fiestas Patrias Parade in downtown Houston, which starts at Minute Maid Park and snakes through a few blocks of the downtown East of Main. There were floats, marching bands, a queen and her court, ROTC bands, fire trucks, the media, and most of the people running for office in Houston. These parades are very multi-ethnic and Houston is no exception. The marching bands had kids from every racial and ethnic group. There were high schools, middle schools, even K-12 charter schools and private academies.
And, of course, there was music. Norteño, salsa, mariachi,and hip-hop. Those that walked passed out flyers for their group,cause or politician, and gave out candy, T-shirts, beads, or other trinkets.
This is a family event, where parents bring their kids. Vendors sell balloons, soda, Mexican flags and tacos. It was a lot of fun.
Saturday evening, I joined Adolfo Santos (chair of the Social Sciences Dept. at UHD) and his wife, Betin, at the Mexican Institute Banquet. A Black Tie event, the banquet honored the 199th anniversary of the independence of Mexico and the 188th anniversary of independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. There were consuls from each country, members of the Hispanic Chamber board, judges and elected officials and local business people. The event honored Mexican Consul General Carlos González Magallón, with whom I met a few days earlier. We spoke of joint work, including cultural and educational exchanges.
I also was introduced, as was the newly-selected Superintendent of Houston Independent School District, Terry Grier. I met Grier, and his wife Nancy, and had a brief opportunity to talk with him about how UHD and HISD could work together, especially on dual credit. A joint reception for both of us is being planned by one of the board members.
It was a wonderful event with great music, great food, and a silent auction, and of course all of us wanted to bid on at least one item. I came home with a beautiful pewter dish. I'm so glad that Adolfo convinced me to attend.
Sunday night, I headed to Jones Hall to watch the Houston Symphony for the 17th annual Chevron Fiesta Sinfónica Familiar. Selections from composers from Mexico, Argentina and Spain were featured. Alondra de la Parra conducted. She is the first woman from Mexico to conduct in New York City and serves as Cultural Ambassador for Mexican tourism. The show featured a performance of Spanish classical guitar by Pablo Sáinz-Villegas from Spain.
The theater was packed by 5:30 p.m. with more Hispanics than I have ever seen in a Symphony in the U.S. Amazingly, the coughing and crying kids quieted as soon as the music began. I bought a CD and Sáinz-Villegas autographed it--and I ran into several people from UHD and the Hispanic Chamber.
It was a wonderful concert and a great way to celebrate Mexican Independence.