City celebrates Hispanic culture

Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

The Mexican culture was in full display in the city of Portales in the eastern plains of New Mexico on Sunday with the “Dia de las Familias” fiesta.

The music was on display with rap and Tejano music. People said they enjoyed the food, carne asada and rice. A look into the crowd revealed people dressed in various clothing ranging from black felt hats and blue jeans to caps tilted sideways with jerseys and baggy jeans. A mixture of young and old, new and traditional, marked the occasion.
People celebrated at Lindsey Park in the afternoon and into the evening in the north part of Portales. It was a scene Vickie Corralez of Portales would like to see more often at Lindsey Park.

“It’s (celebration at Lindsey Park) for the family and that’s the way it always should be,” Corralez said. “I’m really enjoying this. I like the way la raza (the race) get together.”

Corralez brought her three children to the event. Many of the children were riding their bikes, playing football and playing in a bouncy house.

“This is the Hispanic culture,” Corralez, who was born and raised in Portales, said of the celebration. “I remember these fiestas when I was a kid. I have really good memories of the fiestas.”

For Freddy Bolanos, an Eastern New Mexico University student and Omega Delta Phi member, it was the perfect closing to a weekend of festivities. Bolanos, who is also the president of AHORA (Association to Help Our Race Advance) helped with three events during the last week, the ballet folklorico and fireworks on Thursday, the First Annual Latino Summit on Friday and the “Dia de las Familias” on Sunday.

“We saw a good group of students,” Bolanos said about the Latino summit. “We want to impact the younger crowd. They saw firsthand how it is to be a student on campus.”

Bolanos helped out with a bouncy house for the young children on Sunday. According to statistics from the 2000 census, the largest group of Hispanics is between the ages of birth to 4 years old.

“It’s unbelievable seeing how many young kids are out today,” Bolanos said of the fiesta on Sunday. “It’s beautiful. Everybody is real welcoming.”

Bolanos said too many times people have the wrong image of the north part of town being a “troubled area.”

Alfredo Vidal brought his wife and three children to the “Dia de las Familias.” Vidal said his family enjoyed these types of gatherings and reunions. Vidal’s father and brothers live in Mexico, but he said he is still able to visit them so it’s not to hard on him.

The rap group Unbreakable performed during the celebration and many children gathered around the gazebo for a closer view. Arturo Balbuena sat and listened to the music, but he said he preferred Norteno music and likes artists such as Antonio Aguilar and Vicente Fernandez. Balbuena, like Vidal, lives in Portales and was born in Mexico.

Balbuena said Sept. 16, Mexican Independence Day, made him feel good and he still cherishes memories of his former country.