By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer
A bell rung by Father Idalgo on Sept. 16, 1810, signaled the start of Mexico’s fight for independence from Spain. The ensuing battle lasted for 10 years before independence was gained. Today the celebration marking the day is known as Diez y seis de Septiembre
A local event marking that day and celebrating the Hispanic culture will begin at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Lindsey Park. With the emphasis on family, organizers have named the local celebration Dia de Las Familias.
Started 14 years ago, through the Community Services Center, the celebration was originally held on Labor Day weekend for families to get together and celebrate the beginning of the school year. From this it has evolved into the celebration of Mexico’s Independence Day, said Dolores Penrod, event volunteer.
“This is a community affair,” Penrod said.
For the first time, the Portales Cultural Arts committee is helping with the event. Other members of the community and students from the university will also be helping out, said Penrod.
Special entertainment this year will include a performance by “Soy Mariachi”, from Roswell, who will play from 6-8 p.m. A free meal, featuring traditional Mexican food, hot dogs and other items will be served at 5 p.m., said Pilar Moreno, event volunteer. A special memorial will also be held in the evening to honor those members, who helped start the fiesta, and have helped to make a difference in the community, said Moreno.
Portales Area Transit and La Casa Family Health Center will be at the celebration to provide information about the programs that they offer. A petting zoo, horse rides, face painting and piñatas will also be part of the festivities for the public, according to Moreno.
Several local business and people from the community are providing the food and drinks. Raffle tickets will be sold for various prizes donated by the local community and citizens. Musicians and DJ’s will also provide additional music, said committee members.
According to Moreno, this type of event is held at different locations in the surrounding area. The Portales event is unique because the committee members do not charge the public for the meal or accept any donations for the meal, said Moreno.
“It is important just to bring the community together. It’s a positive thing for the community, and to bring all the cultures together,” Moreno said.