Fans relive memories of Selena at H-E-B book signing (video)

April 19, 2012 at 10 p.m.
Updated April 19, 2012 at 11:20 p.m.

Torin Martinez, 9, and Mariah Garza, 8, couldn't wait to meet Chris Perez at a book signing appearance at H-E-B on North Navarro Street on Thursday. "I gave him a hug," said Torin, who loves to watch the Selena video over and over again.

Torin Martinez, 9, and Mariah Garza, 8, couldn't wait to meet Chris Perez at a book signing appearance at H-E-B on North Navarro Street on Thursday. "I gave him a hug," said Torin, who loves to watch the Selena video over and over again.

The sounds of pulsating rhythms and hundreds of crying and screaming fans filled the air Thursday evening as Tejano superstar Selena took center stage.

Never one to disappoint, Selena, who donned a sexy purple jumpsuit, did not miss a beat as she perfectly executed the washing machine dance and belted out the upbeat lyrics to one of her famous songs, "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom."

As always, Chris Perez, husband and band mate of the singer, stood close by.

Instead of performing live, though, Selena's last recorded concert was shown via DVD, and instead of a guitar, Perez held a pen.

Perez spent the evening at H-E-B Plus autographing copies of his newest book, "To Selena, With Love," a collection of memories he and Selena shared before her death.

His Victoria stop was just one of many for his national tour to promote the book, which was released on March 6.

He was greeted by several hundred fans wanting to meet him and get their books signed.

At 9:20, almost 90 minutes after the book signing was set to end, Perez was still signing books for the hundreds of fans still in line.

"If you would have asked me when Selena passed away if I had considered doing this, my answer was always 'No.' My stories were too private and I wanted to keep them to myself," said Perez, 42. "I felt like the time was right. It's partly (friends and family's) doing that I decided to write this book."

April 2 would have marked the couple's 20th wedding anniversary.

At the time of her death in March 1995, she was poised to begin her crossover career.

Two years after joining her band as a guitarist, Perez and Selena married in Nueces County.

"I never met anybody like her to that point, and I haven't until this day," said Perez.

"Selena was the real thing. People can see that."

Perez, who now lives in San Antonio, made it clear the book is not a tell-all, but it does clear up some of the misinformation about the singer, while sharing stories about their marriage, the singer's death and her legacy.

He said the support of friends and family gave him the boost to move forward and make progress with his life, which included writing the book.

"If fans came up to show support back then, it would have become a sad thing really fast," said Perez. "But I started embracing what has become her legacy."

Perez now proudly carries the torch to spread his wife's motto that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.

News of Perez's Victoria book signing prompted a flurry of excitement and activity among Crossroads residents.

As soon as she heard Perez would be in town, Cynthiana Paredez immediately set out to sew her very own version of Selena's purple jumpsuit.

"I went all over, but I couldn't find purple (cloth)," said Paredez, 40, who said she sewed her red outfit solely from memory. "I felt maybe her spirit was with me."

"It was for the love of Selena that lives in my heart."

In between sewing, Paradez said she also began reading Perez's book.

"It's such a love story," she said. "Nowadays, you don't find that."

Hundreds of fans stood in line for hours at H-E-B for the opportunity to meet Perez.

"Dreaming of you makes me cry," Chelsa Canchola, 24, said while waiting in line. "When I die, I want that song to play at my funeral."

"I've always been a fan of Selena. Her music. The way she dressed. Her whole attitude," said Priscilla Arreguin, 20, of Victoria.

Meanwhile, for Erika Villegas, 26, having the opportunity to meet the husband of her favorite singer was bittersweet.

She still recalls the moments she heard the news that her favorite singer had been killed.

Villegas said she and her family were dining in one of their favorite Mexican restaurants in California, where she was often asked to sing Selena songs to fellow customers.

Wait staff soon relayed the messages they were hearing from radios in the back area of the restaurant - Selena had been shot.

"It was horrible. I remember going to the car to cry alone," said Villegas, who recalled she had plans to see Selena perform live for the first time at the L.A. Coliseum that weekend. "I compare it to losing a loved one even though I never met her."

Throughout the years, she has visited various Selena landmarks and even ran into Selena's father and brother, but never Perez.

After a couple of hours of waiting in line, she finally got her chance.

"I thought I was going to be more nervous," said Villegas, who took a taxi after her car died while en route to the event.

"He was so down to earth," she said. "My feet are killing me, but it was worth it."



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