by Agueda Pacheco
South Park neighbors were ready early, vying for the best spots ahead of Saturday’s annual Fiestas Patrias parade. Lawn chairs lined South Cloverdale Street while vendors sold chicharrones, barbacoa, and aguas frescas.
The annual parade was hosted by SeaMar, Washington State’s storied Latino community health organization. On its website, SeaMar, which set “Celebrating the Colors of Our Culture” as the theme to this year’s event, says the theme represents the “proud heritage of who we are and where we come from by celebrating the diversity in color, culture, customs and languages.”
Fiestas Patrias, which translates to “homeland parties” in English, are celebrated by a number of Latin American countries that separated from Spain in the month of September during the colonial period. The Fiestas Patrias are kicked off by Mexico, which celebrates its independence on Sept. 15. The 15th also signals the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S. The other six Latin American countries that celebrate their independence this month include Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, and Costa Rica.
At noon on Saturday, a single traditional Mexican charro holding a Mexican Flag on horseback signaled the start of the parade, which began at SeaMar’s South Park clinic and ended at the South Park Community Center. Behind him, a line of people carrying flags from different Latin American countries, such as El Salvador and Chile, followed.
“¡Viva Mexico!” the charro yelled.
“¡Viva!” the crowd yelled back.
“¡Viva Guatemala!” he yelled, and again the crowd responded, “¡Viva!”
The parade lasted an hour and was attended by many local South End organizations, groups, schools, and politicians. Among them were the Chief Sealth International High School cheer team and band, Casa Latina, Nepantla Cultural Arts Gallery, Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, and Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda.
Local troupes Herencias Mexicanas and Joyas Mestizas danced traditional folkloric ballets from several different Mexican regions, including the Huapango and the Jarabe Tapatío.
And just as the parade started, so, too, did it end with a galloup as dozens of charros and escaramuzas rode down the street on horseback, some riders with their horses even trotting in dressage style. All the while, a band played traditional music from Jalisco, Mexico.
Editors’ Note: This article was updated on 09/20/2023 to correct the name of the dance group photographed.
Agueda Pacheco Flores is a journalist focusing on Latinx culture and Mexican American identity. Originally from Querétaro, Mexico, Pacheco is inspired by her own bicultural upbringing as an undocumented immigrant and proud Washingtonian.
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