By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
In Mexico, Diez y seis de Septiembre is a day of independence.
Saturday in Portales, it was about bringing families together.
A crowd representing various cultures gathered for food, music and games at Lindsey Park marking the 14th year a local celebration called Dia de Las Familias has been held.
Children waited in line to take a swing at a piñata, while the older crowd lounged in the shade and listened to the sounds of mariachis.
“I’m really enjoying it,” said Joe Flores of Portales. “To gather together and enjoy the company of other people and listen to the music is nice.”
Not far away, Kathie Good was manning a booth promoting Portales Area Transit. A volunteer transit board member, Good said her group had been handing out suckers and balloons to the children and registering people for a drawing for free transit passes. As soon as the piñatas started to swing her balloon business dropped off rapidly, though.
“We’ve been giving out lots of balloons, but it looks like we’re retired for awhile,” Good said of the break.
Armando Mendoza, 7, of Portales left his plate of food to get lined up for the piñatas and was successful. He struck a blow that launched the piñata off its tether and candy was soon scattered for the children to grab.
Asked what his favorite part of the day was, Mendoza immediately replied, “The piñatas.” His plate of beans, rice, chili and barbecue quickly regained his attention, however.
One of the event’s organizers, Pilar Moreno said she was pleased with the way the day had gone. She said the food had been provided by a variety of people and represented lots of different cultures. She said Portales Police Chief Jeff Gill had been telling her he wanted to do something and talking about how he made authentic lasagna.
“I told him, don’t tell me you’re a good cook, show me,” Moreno said of the chief’s offer. She said Gill made good on the brag with a huge amount of lasagna.
“Instead of having just one thing, we wanted lots of people to bring something.
“Of course the mariachis bring out the crowds,” Moreno exclaimed as the band struck up another number.
SOY Mariachis of Roswell, a youth group performed all the standards. Their leader Bobby Viellegas said the group’s acronym SOY stands for “Save Our Youth.”
Other entertainment on the stage included DJs, Rap music and other forms of music.
In addition to the piñatas, a petting zoo and face painting were available for the children.