Independence Day celebration draws hundreds

Second annual event brings residents together

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— Overhead, paper flags in the colors of the Mexican flag fluttered in the wind. A mariachi was on stage warming up the crowd, and all around were children throwing confetti.

Summer Laws, one of the organizers of the Mexican Independence Day celebration, loo--ked out at the scene she and others from the city of Steamboat Springs and the Steamboat Springs Arts Council had worked for almost a year to create.

"It's beautiful," she said.

Friday marked the second annual Mexican Independence Day celebration in Steamboat Springs, and it also marked the change in the community in just one year.

The crowd was considerably larger than the year before, and there was no line between the Mexican and Anglo segments of the crowd.

The integration of the two communities is taking place through an effort on the part of the city and Laws' nonprofit organization, Comunidad Integrada.

Laura Kaster looked at her 5-year-old daughter, Alta, as she practiced her Mexican hat dance in a costume the family had ordered from the Mexican state of Jalisco.

"This is really good for the kids," Kaster said. "We were practicing our Spanish on the way over because there were a couple Spanish speakers with us in the car."

Alta was one of nine girls from different cultural backgrounds who learned several traditional Mexican dances from Steamboat resident Fabiola Katthin. The girls practiced for weeks, Kaster said.

Mexican Independence Day is a celebration of the day when Father Miguel Hidalgo walked out onto the streets of the village of Dolores and called the people of Mexico to arms against the Spanish.

He yelled, "Mexicanos, Viva Mexico!"

Every Mexican Independence Day, the president of Mexico and the mayors of each village re-enact the moment, called the "grito."

On Friday, the Mexican Consul General Juan Marcos Gutierrez González, who came to Steamboat for the celebration, led the crowd in the grito.

The sound of hundreds of people responding to the call, "Viva Mexico!" could be heard across downtown Steamboat Springs.

-- To reach Autumn Phillips, call 871-4210 or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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