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Mexicans mark Independence Day

By Elisabeth Arriero
earriero@charlotteobserver.com
el_grito_01
DAVID T. FOSTER III - dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com
Heath Milanez (left) and Tony Caldera of Canarios De Michoacan perform during the "El Grito De Independencia", Mexican Independence Day festival commemorating when Mexico declared its independence from Spain, at McAlpine Creek Park on September 15, 2013. David T. Foster III-dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Hundreds of Mexican nationals and others crowded a trail at McAlpine Creek Park on Sunday for El Festival de el Grito de Independencia, a celebration of their country’s day of independence from Spain.

“It’s important to remember the history of our country,” Martha Guzman, 36, said in Spanish. “It’s great to see this large gathering of the Mexican people today.”

The Charlotte resident said she moved to the United States 16 years ago from the Mexican state of Puebla.

The Grito de Dolores, also known as the cry of Dolores, started on Sept. 16, 1810, in the town of Dolores, near the state of Guanajuato, in central Mexico. It is considered the start of the Mexican War of Independence.

Popular musicians like El Carnalillo and Los Canarios performed as people strolled past dozens of booths advertising law services, free Pulparindo (the “extra hot and salted Tarmarind pulp candy”) and insurance.

From hats to shorts, Mexico’s flag was displayed proudly on patrons. And although there isn’t a cattle farm in the vicinity, dozens of men wore the gear of the vaqueros, or cowboys.

Ricardo Avila, 16, was one such patron. Although the Nation Ford High School student has lived in the United States for six years, he still wanted to pay homage to his home country with leather boots, a leather vest, a cowboy hat and a rosary around his neck.

“It’s really good to learn more about the culture,” said Avila, who is originally from Guanajuato.

El Festival de el Grito de Independencia was hosted by La Raza radio station and other Hispanic companies in Charlotte.

Andres Gutierrez, 37, who hosts a show about financial responsibility on La Raza, said the festival highlights what makes Hispanics special.

“The Hispanic community is a community that adapts,” he said. “They’ve embraced the beliefs of this country and the American Dream. But they also take this time of year to come together and remember the nostalgia of getting independence. This is a very special day.”

Arriero: 704-358-5945; Twitter: @earriero
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