Our Lady of Sorrows church celebrates its community with annual fundraiser (w/video)

Aug. 3, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.

Alyssa Rios and Haylee Olguin stood by the side of the stage, watching friends move their bodies quickly to the rich sounds of traditional Mexican music.

The two girls were next to perform and would highlight the eastern coast of Mexico by dancing the Veracruz style of ballet folklorico. Their thick, brown hair was pulled back tight in a bun, a colorful headband held every strand in place, and the small group of dancers were an angelic vision dressed in white lace dresses, shawls and hand fans.

Alyssa, 14, and Haylee, 15, began dancing ballet folklorico with their church about six years ago and joined other parish members Sunday to entertain at the annual Our Lady of Sorrows Jamaica (huh-MY-kah) fundraiser.

Haylee described her lively toe-tapping movements as an escape from everyday life.

"When I dance, everything goes away," she said.

Our Lady of Sorrows began its annual fundraiser about 60 years ago in a small parking lot, and throughout the years, it has grown to fill the Victoria Community Center, dance director Janie Rubio said.

As many as 15,000 people attended the event in previous years, she said. Last year, it raised $125,000. The money goes toward operating costs and paying down the $4 million debt accrued when the parish started anew after demolishing its old building.

But the event, Rubio said, is really about fellowship.

"It is a time of building our faith, not just with the people of our parish, but the community as a whole," she said.

The day began with a morning mass and ended with live music and a dance.

Mariachi singers kicked off entertainment, followed by dancers that performed several types of ballet folklorico, from Jalisco to Machete.

Booths sponsored by members of the parish served dishes of food, which included menudo, tamales, barbecue plates and fajitas.

A cakewalk in the back center of the room garnered the largest crowd with people vying for one of the treats filling the area with smells of sugar and frosting.

The group of people tucked in neatly around a white platform earnestly put their money on whichever lucky number was calling their names and held their breaths and crossed their fingers as a dial spun round and round.

Paula Gonzales stood planted toward the highest numbers. She'd already won once, taking home an apple pie, but she wasn't surprised when the dial landed on her number - this wasn't her first time playing the game.

Gonzales said she goes to the benefit every year.

A single layer with chocolate frosting toward the back of the tower of sweets almost caught her eye.

She picked it up.

She smelled it.

She changed her mind.

A glazed pineapple upside down cake - her favorite - left the table with her instead.

Rubio said she doesn't have a goal dollar amount she wants to raise this year. She hopes to surpass last year's efforts, but most importantly, she said she wants the event to continue its growth.

"It's a legacy left by our parents," she said. "A legacy that we continue to pass on to our children."



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