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Port Lavacans celebrate Diez y Seis de Septiembre (video)

Sept. 15, 2012 at 4:15 a.m.

Beverley Wyatt, 70, dances on the sidewalk with Steve Koch, 71, at Calhoun County Cultures and Cuisines' Celebracion de  Diez y Seis de Septiembre at Faye Sterling Park on Main Street in Port Lavaca. The community event  celebrated Mexican Independence Day. Wyatt and Koch both attended Calhoun High School in 1959 and 1960, respectively.

Port Lavacans paid homage to their roots South of the border Saturday.

A small crowd toting lawn chairs gathered downtown at Faye Sterling Park to celebrate the Diez y Seis de Septiembre, or Mexico's Independence Day.

Organizers say it's a significant day that captures the Mexican spirit of survival and, unfortunately, often gets overshadowed in the United States by Cinco de Mayo festivities.

"Maybe it (Cinco de Mayo) is just easier to say," said Alicia "Birdie" Davila, whose family emigrated from a small town outside of Monterrey when she was just 4 years old.

She and her neighbors were tapping their feet along to popular Mexican folk songs, such as "La Bamba," when they learned all bets were off for the jalapeno eating contest.

No one was brave enough to sign up to eat 10 pickled jalapenos in the span of two minutes.

Tomas Lara, 82, whose parents were from Mexico, said she loves to pile the spice on sandwiches, but that's it.

"No, no," she said, chuckling when asked to join for a chance to win $50. "I need to see some ice cream first."

Bob Dennison and his fiance Gabby Correa meanwhile took to the dance floor, a place their romance began only 2 1/2 years ago.

Dennison, of Cuero, met Correa at a dance club in San Antonio. He said he'd read about the event in the newspaper and knew it'd impress her.

Correa moved to Texas from Monterrey in 1995 to start up another branch of her salsa company.

The retirees plan on honeymooning there.

"This is just something wonderful," she said, smiling. "I'm so glad people are celebrating here."

Port Lavaca Mayor Jack Whitlow said 48 percent of the city's population is Mexican/American and some initially came to work in the shrimp or oyster business.

"It didn't start out that way, but they're welcome here," he said. "America's a big melting pot. We need to keep it (this event) going."

Related stories:

UHV Professor shares Mexican heritage, click HERE

Port Lavaca man honored for reviving downtown, click HERE



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