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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Thousands celebrate Mexican Independence Day in Downtown Bryan

Photo by Photo by Karis Olson

Brazos School of Inquiry and Creativity marches in the Fiestas Patrias Mexicanas Parade to celebrate Mexico’s independence from Spain in Bryan, Texas on Sept. 17, 2023. (Karis Olson/The Battalion)

Community members celebrated Mexican culture and independence from Spain over the weekend in Downtown Bryan.
On Sept. 17, the day after Mexico declared independence from Spain over 200 years ago, the Fiestas Patrias Mexicanas of Bryan-College Station welcomed thousands to celebrate with a festival and parade.
Founded in the 1990s, the non-profit organization celebrates the beauty of Mexican culture and promotes education through scholarships. Event Organizer and Administrator Alma Villareal said the organization has grown immensely since its inception over 30 years ago and spends a year planning the event.
“The whole focus of the event is to instill the Hispanic culture and raise funds for scholarships for teachers and students pursuing higher education,” Villarreal said. “It’s a year-round planning process because we do fundraising, planning and logistics with the city. We partner with the downtown area and do different things at different times. For example, we received our permit back in May. There are a lot of different, little things we do in order to make the event possible.”
The annual event kicked off at noon with a parade down William J. Bryan Parkway. The scholarship winners, dubbed parade King and Queen, followed leading men and women in Mexican traditional wear riding horseback and holding Mexican flags in hand.
Marching behind, the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band played the Aggie War Hymn. Reveille X trailed behind the cadets in a black, windows-down jeep. The band has served as an integral part of the parade for a decade now, Villarreal said.
“For 10 years, the band has been a part of the event,” Villarreal said. “They’re always really excited to be a part of the event. Everyone in the community loves it. Some people don’t have the opportunity to go to an Aggie game or see the band perform. This is always a big treat for attendees.”
In addition to A&M, other schools from the Brazos Valley had the opportunity to be a part of the parade. Local elementary, intermediate and high schools rode on floats decorated with papel picado and Viva Mexico! banners.
The parade also featured performances from ballet folklorico performers and the group Danza Azteca de San Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, which performed one of the oldest, traditional dances native to Mexico.
Following the parade, guests visited various food vendors at the annual festival and enjoyed elote, birria tacos and aguas frescas while listening to live music. Other vendors sold homemade zapatos, caps and other goods. For the first time ever, the organization also hosted a car show, Villareal said.
“The participation was amazing … the whole area around the main band stage was full of cool cars for people to look at,” Villareal said.
The festivities, new and old, paired with cooler weather made for a packed event from noon to 9 p.m. with people from all over Texas and across the border, Villareal said.
“People came by early and then stayed the whole time,” Villareal said. “We’ve seen people come for the parade and then go home to relax for a while before coming back in the evening, which was not the case this year. We didn’t also just have Hispanics. Other races also came and enjoyed the food, music and festivities. We had people come from Austin, Houston and San Antonio. Two people also came from Mexico and led El Grito [de Independencia].”
Villareal expressed gratitude to the sponsors who helped make the event possible and said she is looking forward to next year’s event.

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