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Goliad to host Cinco de Mayo (video)

By chirst
May 1, 2013 at 12:01 a.m.

Ballet Folklorico dancers, from left, Livian Aguilar, 13, Isabel Torres, 11, Abigail Aguilar, 14, and Rafaela Silva, 17, practice at the Immaculate Conception Church in Goliad. The group will perform in this weekend's Cinco de Mayo festivities in Goliad.

GOLIAD - Toni Jo Garcia spun around the tiled floor in heels, a T-shirt and a brilliant, blue skirt Wednesday night.

The 14-year-old's face was set in concentration, despite the informal setting.

It was their last practice before Saturday, when Toni Jo and the other members of the Ballet Folklorico de Goliad will perform for the Goliad Cinco de Mayo celebration.

"I get to show the culture, that is a big part of it. ... Folklorico - it is all the states and the dances that they have. We are trying to take that so people in the United States can understand all of the different aspects of Mexico and how great it is," Toni Jo said about Folklorico, a traditional Mexican dance.

Toni Jo, who was also crowned Miss Zaragoza in the Zaragoza Society pageant April 13, will welcome the delegation of 70-80 people arriving Friday from Goliad's sister city of Hidalgo, Mexico.

"We look forward to it a lot - they are our family. They are our sister city, so it is like a reunion, a big family reunion," Toni Jo said.

The delegation and the town celebrate the Battle of Puebla fought on May 5, 1862, when the Mexican army defeated the French invaders.

General Ignacio Zaragoza, the hero of the battle, was born in what is now Goliad, which is why the Texas Legislature made the town the official site of the Cinco de Mayo celebration in Texas.

"That accomplishment is really important to the Mexican heritage, and it shows you can accomplish anything you want. So to represent Zaragoza, the general of that army, is a big honor for me," Toni Jo said.

The delegates from Hidalgo bring their own bands and Ballet Folklorico group, said Hernan Jaso, Zaragoza Society member who has helped organize the ceremonies.

"Honoring the hero is probably the most fun because the celebration is a celebration, fiesta is Fiesta. I love the Mariachi music. I love the Ballet Folklorico. I love the exchange of culture, the international exchange of two people with the same objective," Jaso said.

Lupita Barrientos, the 21-year-old dance instructor for Ballet Folklorico de Goliad, said her students practice hard every year to be as good as the Hidalgo team.

"They look up to them and they try so hard every year ... because they want to accomplish the same thing that group is," Barrientos said. "And for me, I am proud to see them come over here and dance because we have something in common. They are from Mexico and dancing, and here we are, representing the same thing and the same culture from miles away."

Though the event admission is free, Jaso said donations and money raised go to the Zaragoza Society, which offers scholarships and community assistance.

Toni Jo, for example, said she will do community projects throughout the year.

"I felt like the queen was a role model to me when I was young, so now that I have the opportunity to be over the little ones," Toni Jo said. "I want to teach them to be themselves and that they can do anything they set their hearts to."



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