Stockton celebrates Mexican Independence Day

Esther Madrigal tosses her dress in her traditional folklore dance performance

Stockton celebrated its second annual Mexican Independence Day Celebration for the Latin community on Sept. 16.

Comerciantes Unidos, along with the Downtown Stockton Alliance and the Mexican Heritage Center hosted the event in downtown Stockton.

On stage a large Mexican flag hung between speakers playing music and banners of several Mexican icons suspended over the stage.

People enjoyed live music, singers and dancers. Esther Madrigal performed traditional folkloric dances in a black dress with purple flowers surrounding a mural of Guadalajara City. A mariachi band played guitar and trumpets.

The Stockton City Council presented certificates of recognition to the three groups thanking them for “[enriching] the lives of Stocktonians through presentation of history and culture.”

At the end of the celebration, a color guard performed the Mexican national anthem and presented the Mexican and American flags. A woman from the Consulate General of Mexico from Sacramento chants,“Viva Mexico! Viva!”

President of Comerciantes Unidos, Max Beas, said his group is proud to host the event to show the strength of their community.

One of the sponsors of the event, the Mexican Heritage Center, displayed some of the Mexican culture at their booth. They had jewelry, figurines, plants and pictures.

President of the Mexican Heritage Center, Gracie Madrid, says the center display monthly exhibits promoting Mexican art and culture. The center celebrates exhibits by local artists, Cesar Chavez, the Day of the Dead, the Adelitas Awards and more.

“Mexicans enrich Stockton,” said Gerardo Serrano, main event spokesperson.

According to Serrano, Mexican Independence Day is an important event in Stockton celebrating the culture the Latino community brings to the city.

How did Mexican culture make its way to Stockton? It started with the fight for independence from Spain.

When asked about what Mexican Independence Day Means, Serrano said Spain ruled over Mexico and made people slaves. Mexico then declared independence and became a democratic nation with its own constitution.

September 16, 1810 marks the day of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla gave his battle cry, “Cry of Dolores.”

“Although many mistakenly attribute the Cinco de Mayo holiday as the celebration of Mexican independence, Sept. 16 was the day the enthusiastic Indian and mestizo congregation of Hidalgo’s small Dolores parish church took up arms and began their fight for freedom against Spain,” according to the U.S. Library of Congress.

When Mexico won the war, it began a new history. Latinos occupied what we know today as California.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 104,172 people in Stockton who identified as Mexican. Out of a total 291,707, the group holds the largest demographic in the area.