September 15, 2006

Tijuana celebrates Mexican Independence Day like the old days

By Pablo Jaime Sainz

Even if those from southern Mexico might say otherwise, Tijuana has one of the strongest traditions of celebrating Mexican Independence Day.

If you don’t believe this, you can take a look around Tijuana and see all the Mexican flags covering most of the city´s streets. Vendors are selling the tricolor flags in different sections of Tijuana, especially at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry.

Also, Feria de las Californias, located on the Caliente horse-tracks, is considered one of the biggest Fiestas Patrias fairs in northern Mexico.

The fair has been going since last August 25 and will end Sunday, September 17.

Fairgoers are able to enjoy concerts, carnival rides, even a small zoo, all for $5 or less.The Teatro del Pueblo, for example, offers concerts and comedy shows included in the admission price.

This Friday, September 15, fairgoers will be able to give “el grito” inside the Palenque in company of banda performer Pancho Barraza, who hails from the state of Sinaloa. Also on Saturday September 16, Venezuelan balladeer Ricardo Montaner will pay tribute to Mexico, the country where he’s very popular, with a concert in the palenque as well.

Tickets for Palenque cost 250 to 400 pesos, or about $25 to $40.

And the Feria de las Californias has everything you need to celebrate Mexican Independence Day: fair rides, fritangas (Mexican food), fire crackers, and live music.

The profits generated by the fair will go toward the construction of the interactive children’s museum Museo del Trompo de Tijuana.Five dollars doesn’t buy much these days. But at the Feria de las Californias, it can buy you a ticket to fun.

Also in Tijuana will be the official government acts, such as El Grito by Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon on the night of the 15th, at the Explanada of City Hall.

There, thousands of Tijuanenses will gather for the maximum celebration of Mexican Independence Day in the city. Usually traffic is hectic around City Hall that night. It is recommended that those who attend use public transportation to get to the celebration.

“The purpose is to celebrate the legacy that our founding fathers have left us,” reads a press release from the city’s government. “We want our residents to get involved and to participate in all the events we’re planning.”

There will be a verbena, a typical Mexican swap-meet where they sell toys, candy and food.

The September 15 celebration will begin at 5:00 p.m., with performances by locals Los Tenientes de Tijuana. Music will be always playing, thanks to ballet folkloricos groups and bandas sinaloenses.

The official ceremony will begin at 10:30 p.m., when Mayor Hank will give the traditional “grito” of ¡Viva México! Mexican founding fathers, such as Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and José María Morelos y Pavón, are also mentioned in the civil act.

Since thousands of people will attend this free event, it is recommended that if you have young children you should take good care of them.

Also, in the different delegaciones, or districts, in the city, there will be separate celebrations for people who prefer to stay closer to home.

Delegación La Presa, for example, will have a street fair. Delegación Mesa de Otay will have a fair and a castillo in the local soccer field.

For San Diegans planning on going to Mexico to celebrate Mexican Independence Day, Feria de las Californias might be the easiest place to get to, since it won’t be as crowded as the city hall celebration.

But if you really want to experience a true celebration of Mexican Independence Day in Mexico, the City Hall event, with its huge crowd, is your best bet.

And like they say in Tijuana these days, ¡Qué viva México!

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